Since hanging up his amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead has appeared as the lead in an Oscar Wilde play, landed parts in Casualty and Bedlam, and performed as both Fiyero in Wicked and Emmett in Legally Blonde, but hasn't returned to the studio since 2009's Nothing Else Matters. Three years later, the 33-year-old proves he hasn't given up his pop ambitions just yet with the release of his third album, Love Songs. Unlike his previous two efforts, which were a mixture of old and original material, its ten tracks are all covers, specifically orchestral re-workings of his favorite romantic numbers, unsurprisingly released just in time for Valentine's Day. It's hardly a novel concept, and a quick skim through the track list doesn't exactly inspire much excitement. But while his elegant string-soaked rendition of Elton John's "Your Song," his suitably theatrical take on Chess showpiece "Anthem, and his over-emotive cover of Coldplay's "Fix You" are as utterly generic as you'd expect, there are a few welcome, less-ubiquitous tracks which encouragingly take Mead out of his comfort zone. "At or with Me" is a surprisingly convincing retread of Jack Johnson's venture into honky tonk, lent an extra authenticity by Mason Neely's raw live-sounding production; "The Garden" sees Mead turn Take That's stadium pop/rock by numbers into a gorgeously warm slice of easy listening lounge pop, while "Falling Slowly" is a valiant attempt to pull off the beautiful falsetto harmonies of Once's Oscar-winning ballad entirely on his own. The understated but unremarkable renditions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Charles Aznavour's "She," and Tom Baxter's "Better" will do little to diffuse the Michael Ball comparisons. But there are the occasional signs which suggest Mead could transcend the housewife market should he choose.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien