“For the first time in my life, I feel truly vulnerable when I am singing these songs. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.”
West End performer Siobhan Dillon’s new album, One Voice, is a deeply personal collection of songs (mixing popular music songs with the odd musical theatre number) and proves to be a pleasant forty-three minutes of easy listening with a flourish of drama.
In 2015, Dillon was diagnosed with breast cancer and took some time away from the stage, returning as Ellen in Miss Saigon a year later. The recording of “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress, which appears on this album dates back to this time, and brings out the emotional complexity of Sara Bareilles’ lyrics.
One Voice is an album of reflection, positivity and faith, with songs chosen by Dillon for their resonance to her life and feelings, and arranged by her producer Steve Anderson (best known for his decades-long collaboration with Kylie Minogue).
Love songs made famous by Bonnie Raitt (“I Can’t Make You Love Me”), Kelly Clarkson (“Already Gone”) and Roberta Flack (Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”) rub shoulders with reworked classics by Roxette (“It Must Have Been Love”) and Tears for Fears (“Mad World”, a current byword for a crazy world), together with a stripped-down version of Beverley Craven’s “Promise Me”. From Rent (a musical with special meaning for Dillon), “Without You” touches on loss and rejection.
The album is rounded out by songs less familiar to me: songs associated with Missy Higgins (“Everyone’s Waiting”), Chris Rice (“Let the Words Escape”), and Lara Fabian (“Broken Vow”). Each song is three to five minutes long, giving time and space to become their own short stories of survival and tenacity. Dillon’s musical theatre roots are clear in her etheral voice and ability to interpret lyrics from a variety of artists and styles.
As Ellen in Miss Saigon. Photo courtesy Reuters.
Dillon came to public attention through the TV talent show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria and has since appeared in key roles in Grease, Legally Blonde, Ghost The Musical, Miss Saigon, and Sunset Boulevard.
One Voice is a strong debut with a smoky late-night vibe, an easy-listening album cleverly curated and lovingly produced by Anderson. It is a slow burner which repays repeat listens and holds together well as a whole work.
Released in support of the Breast Cancer Haven charity, the album feels like a meaningful way for Dillon to express what has been important to her these past five years. The songs hint at not just her health and recovery, but love, loss, relationships and rejections, the theatre, words, melodies and memories.
With Michael Xavier in Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.
One Voice is available on Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music (priced £7.99). You can also watch the songs being performed on YouTube. You can find out more about Siobhan Dillon and Steve Anderson at their respective websites.
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