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A fantastic follow up - well done ladies!
on 5 March 2012
It seemed almost impossible that the Military Wives choir of Chivenor and Plymouth could have got a full album out in just a few months, following their Christmas No 1.
The short answer is that they haven't - this selection of 11 songs includes not just Chivenor and Plymouth but the Military WAGS Choir of Catterick Garrison and the Portsmouth and Lympstone CTC Military Wives' Choirs too.
However, there's no drop-off in quality. It opens with a cracker - Bob Dylan's lovely 'Make You Feel My Love' with the solo sung by one of the leading lights of the TV series, Nicky Scott, backed by the rest of the Chivenor choir.
Clever editing enabled all the choirs to come together in the title track 'In My Dreams' which like 'Wherever You Are' is another Paul Mealor composition - a truly lovely original song. This track features the one male voice on the album, X-Factor finalist and serving soldier Jonjo Kerr - perhaps a slightly ironic choice, but a very good one. Jonjo has a fine voice that really blends well with the ladies.
All the tracks were clearly carefully chosen for the meaning behind the songs - so this is very much a mix of ballads, but none the worse for that. The Lympstone Choir didn't feature in the TV programme but they have a beautifully melodic True Love Ways whilst the Portsmouth Choir, also not seen on TV, contribute a stirring Up Where We Belong by Buffy St Marie, a difficult song that they tackle well.
Two exceptions to the chart ballads are the sailor's hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save (For Those in Peril On The Sea) beautifully sung by the ladies of Chivenor and the lovely traditional Scottish song Silver Tassie. Silver Tassie is a poem by Robert Burns about the heartache of a soldier sailing to war and leaving his beloved Mary behind. Unsurprisingly the soloist for this much-loved song is the impressively talented Scot Sam Stevenson, the now well known soloist of Wherever You Are, also the closing track of the album.
It wouldn't be fair not to mention the other soloist featured, Emily Shipman of Plymouth who turns in a lovely performance in On My Own, the penultimate track. This is the song from Les Miserables, not the Whitney Houston song of the same name.
A special mention must go to the Catterick WAGS Choir - it was Nicky Clarke of Catterick who wrote the original letter to Gareth Malone suggesting that military wives would make a great subject for his next 'Choir' series.
The ladies of Catterick had to go ahead without Gareth, but Nicky Clarke's letter sowed the seed that resulted in the formation of the Military Wives Choir of TV fame. The WAGS Choir's own track is gorgeous - a stunning arrangement by Geoff Lawson of Coldplay's 'Fix You'.
A measure of the profits from sales will go to the Military Wives Choir Foundation which will help all military communities to run their own choirs. Those who have seen any of the 'Choir' programmes know of the benefits singing can bring to groups and individuals. What a great idea. What a great buy. This deserves to sell in hundreds of thousands for Mother's Day, but will appeal to all those who enjoy choral music.