No stranger to the concept of the covers album, 2006 Australian Idol winner Damien Leith once again raids the sounds of the '60s following 2008's Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation for his 2011 release, Roy. As its title suggests, the Dublin-born singer/songwriter's fifth album pays tribute to his own musical idol, the legendary Roy Orbison, but unlike many talent show karaoke cash-ins, this collection of 14 songs comes equipped with a rather credible endorsement, thanks to his widow, Barbara Orbison's role as executive producer. Having performed the maudlin rock & roll ballad "Crying" on both Idol and his debut album, The Winner's Journey, Leith's affinity for Orbison is unquestionable, but it's an affinity which appears to have left him scared to put his own stamp on proceedings. Aping Orbison's gentle, shimmering vocals, renditions of the Bolero-inspired U.S. number one "Running Scared," the high-octave love-lost tale "In Dreams" and the Everly Brothers' original "Love Hurts" are all imbued with the same sense of swooping melodrama, but it's only on the Bollywood-tinged R&B reworking of "Dream Baby" and the post-grunge basslines of "Oh Pretty Woman," does the production from the likes of Wayne Connolly (Silverchair), Stuart Crichton (Delta Goodrem), and Damon Elliott (Beyoncé) attempt to veer away from the source material. Although Roy doesn't serve up many surprises, there's still plenty to admire, from the gorgeous collaboration with country sister trio the McClymonts on "Blue Bayou," to the twinkling melancholy of the U2-penned "She's a Mystery to Me," to the uplifting barroom vibes of "Handle with Care," performed with his own version of the Traveling Wilburys (the Choirboys' Mark Gable, Potbelleez's Ilan Kidron, and fellow 2006 Idol contestant Bobby Flynn), while the song selections respectfully represent the entirety of Orbison's 30-year career, from the doo wop pop of his 1960 chart-topper "Only the Lonely," to his 1992 posthumous hit "I Drove All Night." Released to coincide with what would have been his 75th birthday, Roy is a tasteful and affectionate homage which befits the occasion, but by playing it too safe, there's little here that would prevent any celebrators digging out the originals instead.
Roy: Tribute to Roy Orbison Review
by Jon O'Brien