Album Review: Charlotte Church, “Enchantment” (2001)

Charlotte Church first arrived with her debut album, A Voice Of An Angel. Though she was only thirteen years old at the time, she had the voice of a mature soprano as she tackled such classics as Pie Jesu,Ave Maria and Danny Boy. She followed the same formula for a self-titled album, and a holiday release, but decided to take a short break to decide which songs she wanted to record for her next album.

Through the years, I had always thought Charlotte had a lovely voice, but I didn’t find her versions of classic songs and arias all that interesting. It wasn’t until the release of her third album, Enchantment, that I became a fan of her work.

As always, her vocal talent is beyond comparison, but with Enchantment, she shows that she isn’t just another opera singer. The CD ranges from Broadway classics, to traditional Welsh and Celtic songs and a few ballads. The result is a great range of music that fails to disappoint.

The album starts off with Tonight, which is of course, from the musical West Side Story. The orchestra is fantastic here, and instead of overshadowing her, only compliments Charlotte’s voice. Later on in the album, she covers another classic from the same musical- Somewhere. I actually like Somewhere a lot more than Tonight. While I’ve always been a fan of the song, Charlotte sings it with such emotion and passion that I fall in love with it all over again while I’m listening to it. Again, the orchestra plays a big hand in the beauty of this song.

Habanera, the classic tune from Carmen, is also present on the album. Unlike the covers from West Side Story, Charlotte goes with a bit of an original approach with this track. There are Latin guitars and a flamingo sounding beat which spices the song up a bit.

Bali Ha’i, a song from the classic musical, South Pacific, continues with Habanera’s slightly Latin approach, and is another song that’s just as fun to listen to as to dance to. Charlotte hits several beautiful high notes in the song, and her voice is highlighted nicely.

The album slows down a bit with Papa, Can You Hear Me?, a song made famous in Yentl. While I’ve never heard Streisand’s version, Charlotte does a beautiful job. Her voice starts off soft as she sings, “Papa, are you near me?/Papa, can you hear me?/Papa, can you help me not be frightened?”. The tempo and orchestration picks up towards the end, only to slow back down as Charlotte quietly sings, “Papa, how I miss you/Kissing me goodnight”.

Another sentimental song is From My First Moment. It starts off with light guitar, and Charlotte sounds lovely as she slowly works her way through the song. The lyrics are about someone who has had unconditional love for the singer, and it’s a quite a beautifully emotional track. There’s a wonderful instrumental break with guitar and violin, and then Charlotte comes back in for a key changes in the last verses. Her voice is flawless as she sings the last lines, “The journey through life/Would be hard without you/You gave me all I have/And all I know”.

Carrickfergus is a traditional Welsh song, which also happens to be Charlotte’s hometown. The song is about longing to go home to Carrickfergus, but not being able to get there, and Charlotte conveys this emotion well. Her vocals matched with a soaring melody and flutes gives the song an adventurous feel, and makes this track easily one of the best on the album.

The Little Horses is a traditional lullaby. At a choir festival last year, I got the opportunity to hear an opposing choir sing this song, and I tend to like Charlotte’s version over the choral version. The song starts off like a simple lullaby, but picks up as it goes along, adding in guitar and drums. The Water is Wide is a traditional Celtic song, which comes off as being a bit boring. Though Charlotte sounds beautiful and the simple melody is nice, the track has nothing extraordinary to make it stand out.

One of the albums’ highlights is the classic song, The Flower Duet. Charlotte performs the song entirely by herself, which is quite a feat. This song is probably the best vocally, as she covers quite a wide range. Another highlight is A Bit Of Earth a song from The Secret Garden. At first, the slow melody took a bit of getting used to, but once I listened to the beauty in Charlotte’s voice, I found myself falling in love with the song. It starts off very simple and small, and then builds up in power and orchestration towards the end. Charlotte hits a very high and beautiful note in the last seconds of the song, giving it even more of a dramatic feel.

If I Love You is from the musical, Carousel, and is another great track. Charlotte’s vocals are perfect in this song; they’re soft and alluring when they need to be and strong and daring towards the finale.

While the rest of the album is filled with memorable songs, The Laughing Song and Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man are a bit bland in comparison. The first of the two is another song that highlights Charlotte’s voice, but isn’t impressive enough to stand out. Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man is a song from Show Boat, and while it’s nice to listen too, it blends in with the rest of the songs after a few listens.

The album ends with Charlotte’s duet with Josh Groban, The Prayer. As a huge Josh Groban fan, I really anticipated the release of this track, and I wasn’t the least disappointed. Their voices blend very well together, as they sing in English and then in Italian. They also performed the song together at the 2002 Winter Olympics closing ceremonies.

Enchantment is a great collection of classic songs from Broadway as well as a few old traditional songs; all of which Charlotte handles wonderfully. Fans of Charlotte Church will enjoy this album, and if you aren’t a fan of her yet, you will be after taking a listen to Enchantment.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Tonight
2. Carrickfergus
3. Habanera
4. Bali Ha’i
5. Papa Can You Hear Me?
6. Flower Duet, The
7. Little Horses, The
8. From My First Moment
9. Water Is Wide, The
10. Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man
11. Laughing Song, The
12. If I Loved You
13. Bit Of Earth, A
14. Somewhere
15. The Prayer (with Josh Groban)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL2A7DB7e_I]
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