Camilla Kerslake

Moments

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A virtual unknown two years earlier, soprano Camilla Kerslake has since performed several times in front of the Queen, landed the role of Cosette in the 30th Anniversary production of Les Miserables, and achieved a gold-selling album with her self-titled debut. While her first offering's combination of traditional standards, hymns, and contemporary pop songs was an accomplished affair, it didn't really offer anything that you couldn't find on a Katherine Jenkins album. However, taking everyone by surprise, her follow-up Moments is one of the most inventive classical pop releases in recent years. There are still the occasional ubiquitous song choices such as Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever," recently covered by popera stars Jonathan Ansell, Rhydian, and Jenkins herself, and the Les Miserables number "Bring Him Home," but even they are given a twist with the former adding a twinkling music-box production to the rock classic, and the latter offering a rare female take on the Jean Valjean-sung solo. But elsewhere, Kerslake adheres to the kind of cut-and-paste approach usually favored by genre-hopping dance producers with a series of songs based on an intriguing array of samples, such as the opening title track, which borrows the enchanting synth intro from Art of Noise's 1987 single "Moments of Love" and fuses it with some R&B-style finger-clicking, spacey synths and Clannad-esque chanting. Starting as it means to go on, it's followed by the haunting "El Corazon," whose skittering trip-hop rhythms, sultry breathy vocals and inspired use of the choral piece "O Euchari," famously used on The Beloved's "The Sun Is Rising," sounds like a mash-up between Massive Attack and Enya. Elsewhere, "Restless Warrior" is a beautifully lilting orchestral number which places new lyrics by Alisha's Attic Shelly Poole over a faithful arrangement of Einaudi's "Le Onde;" "Surfing In The Air" sets the words of the iconic theme to Raymond Briggs' The Snowman to a blend of tribal rhythms and an anthemic string section which echoes the riff from The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony;" while Kerslake's delicately emotive vocals take centre stage on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and The Kinks' "I Go To Sleep," not two of the most obvious song choices for a vocalist of her stature. The four completely original compositions suffer in comparison, but the likes of the harp-led "Let Go" and the soaring ballad "Snow On The Roses" would fit comfortably into most West End musicals, while "Sleepsong," penned by Brendan Graham, the man behind modern standard "You Raise Me Up," is a valiant attempt to recapture the aforementioned's inspirational qualities. In the same way that Lady Gaga raised the bar for female pop vocalists, Kerslake now appears to have done the same for her classical pop counterparts. It'll be very interesting to see where she goes next.