Reviewed by Ian Hayter
With his background in opera one might have expected the precise sounds of a classically trained voice to dominate on the latest Veira album. In fact, the singer has let go of much of his operatic intonation and allowed his rich bass-baritone to take on a looser and more improvised feel that on these gospel songs sounds surprisingly soulful. Teaming up with the cream of British Christian musicians - Ben Castle, Neil Costello, Raul D'Oliveira, Phil Crabbe and Tracey Riggan (amongst many others) - he brings his own unique interpretation to bear on such timeless classics as "People Get Ready", "Oh Happy Day", "Swing Low" and "His Eye Is On The Sparrow", throwing in Stevie Wonder's "Have A Talk With God", Van Morrison's "Whenever God Shines His Light" and Billy Joel's "Travelin' Prayer". There's a mixture of styles, too, as producer and keyboard maestro Mark Edwards adds some smoky jazz piano, Stuart Townend contributes a blast of bluegrass banjo, and there is some great big band jazz accompaniment on a couple of the tracks. Imagine Willard White and Nelson Riddle getting together and you'll have some idea of where much of this album is going. As always on Mr Veira's albums, the production is excellent and the performance superb, so it's well worth getting hold of.
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Travelling Songs sees Jonathan Veira embark on a musical journey through Gospel, bluegrass, blues and country, reviving songs etched into popular consciousness with an infectious smile and lightness of touch.
An album of irresistible rhythms, dazzling musicianship and sublime vocals, Jonathan’s obvious affection for his material enthuses wit, wonder and warmth through this outstanding collection of classic songs. Drawing support from a stellar cast of musicians including a guest appearance from Ben Castle, this much-loved singer tips his hat to a generation of great songsmiths, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Van Morrison and Curtis Mayfield.
A feast of popular standards including O Happy Day, How Sweet It Is, Have A Talk With God, I Go To The Rock, Do Lord and His Eye Is On The Sparrow, Travelling Songs is an amiable companion for all our journeys.