Kerry Ellis / Brian May

Golden Days

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Kerry Ellis' association with Brian May stretches back to 2002, when she appeared as Meat in the debut London production of the Queen jukebox musical We Will Rock You. May produced her 2010 debut Anthems and wound up playing with her on its supporting tour, not to mention the 2012 Born Free Tour that followed (it was documented on 2013's Acoustic by Candlelight), but Golden Days is the first studio album credited to both musicians. Appropriately, it does feel like a collaboration, one that emphasizes both Ellis' theatrical side and May's soaring guitar theatrics. Although there are sheets of May's trademark fuzzed-out guitar, this combination winds up favoring Ellis since she is, after all, the lead singer. With her stage-trained chops, she can sometimes sound old-fashioned, a move not helped by the duo's decision to cover such pop perennials as "If I Loved You," "Born Free," "I (Who Have Nothing)," and "Can't Help Falling in Love," not to mention "Amazing Grace." These are surrounded by covers of ABBA ("Story of a Heart") and Thin Lizzy ("Parisienne Walkways"), along with four originals from Brian May -- -two co-written by Ellis -- and the cumulative effect is to feel rather stuffy and middle brow; it feels like a classy evening out for people who don't really like rock.

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