Since ending her run in the lead role of the West End production of The Sound of Music, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher has done her best to convince audiences that her capabilities stretch beyond playing a singing nun. She's played a woman obsessed with Elvis Presley memorabilia in the ITV drama Caught in a Trap, appeared as a runaway bride in short-film The Wedding Dress, and spent much of 2008 holed up in a recording studio, the result of which is her second album, Secret Love. Although Fisher has stated she classes this as her "proper first album" (her debut, Favourite Things, was tied in to her TV talent show contract), it follows the same classic film and show tunes formula as its predecessor. Alongside faithful renditions of some of her mentor, Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous compositions, (Cats' signature tune "Memory," Starlight Express' power ballad "Make Up My Heart"), and a brand new track penned by the musical theater maestro ("First Impression Counts"), there are also slightly bluesy Eva Cassidy-esque interpretations of songs from My Fair Lady ("I Could Have Danced All Night"), Oh Kay ("Someone to Watch Over Me"), and Calamity Jane (the title track). Produced by Graham Stack (John Barrowman), its simple acoustic and orchestral arrangements perfectly complement Fisher's pure and sweetly sung vocals, particularly on the cover of Madonna's Oscar-winning Evita song "You Must Love Me," and the beautiful "When She Loved Me," a rather surprising inclusion from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack. But apart from a duet with fellow Lloyd Webber show winner and heartthrob Lee Mead on "Next Time You'll Fall in Love," which neatly brings the album full circle, there's very little here to back up Fisher's claims that Secret Love is a musical theater album for young people. Although it's unlikely to appeal to the pop audience it's aiming for, its thoughtful and timeless selection of classic songs would provide a welcome addition to any West End fan's record collection.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien