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For those unfamiliar with the name, Ramin Karimloo (born September 19, 1978) is an Iranian-born Canadian musical theatre actor, recognized chiefly for his work in London's West End. He has played major and leading male roles in both of the West End's longest running musicals; Raoul and the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera; and Marius, Enjolras, and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. He also originated the role of the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies, which continues the story of The Phantom of the Opera.
The songs included in this release are as follows:
Show Me Light
Music Of The Night
Til I Hear You Sing
Eyes Of A Child
Inside My World
Everything I Do
Ramin's voice is gentle, sweet, and dramatic and while no one can imagine him singing opera, he is indeed an idol on the musical stage. His voice and style, coupled with his chiseled physique which stage directors like to share suggest that he is going to be an important force on the stage for some time it seems. Grady Harp, March 12
Onto the album:
1. Show Me Light (Ramin Karimloo/Tom Nichols/Mathias Wollo/Don Mescall) - One of my favorites. It somehow speaks to my soul. Yea, you read that right.
2. Coming Home (Greg Wells/Ryan Tedder) - I was surprised to find that this was a "Tedder" song. I like Tedder's music (whether for OneRepublic or other artists), but his songs are often similar. I find myself singing the chorus as I go about my daily business. :)
3. Music of the Night (ALW) - OK, when I first heard the score change I channeled Randy Jackson and was like, "I don't know, dawg..." But then I was like, "Naw, it's still good and captivating." Must be the voice.
4. Broken Home (Don Mescall/Mathias Wollo/Ramin Karimloo/Tom Nichols) - Earnest, upbeat, but a bit depressing. Does that make sense? It will if you listen to the song.
5. Guiding Light (Matthew Bellamy) - The Muse cover. I had to go listen to the original, and I must say, I prefer Ramin's interpretation. But, I don't view it as a competition: a good song is a good song. This is a good song, lyrically and musically.
6. Song of the Human Heart (Duncan Sheik) - Beautiful. This song is beautiful.
7. Constant Angel (Don Mescall/Mike Reid) - Another song that I just enjoy. I "get" it.
8. Till I Hear You Sing (ALW) - Once again, new score. I love the opening. This version also uses the lyric changes that you may or may not have heard ("and sometimes in darkness," etc.). No matter your opinion of LND, this song is epic and haunting beautiful.
9. Eyes of a Child (Mathias Wollo/Tom Nichols/Don Mescall/Ramin Karimloo) - I like it.
10. Inside My World (Mathias Wollo/Tom Nichols/Ramin Karimloo) - Hmmm, kind of sad...
11. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) (Michael Kamen/Robert John "Mutt" Lange/Bryan Adams) - Oh, how I remember this song filling the airwaves from the days of my youth. Images of the video flood my mind: the obligatory guitar solo, the guitarist long hair flowing in the breeze...but back to the cover, Ramin's voice is certainly more melodic that Adams's raspy gruffness, but do I like it more, less, the same? I'd say equal.
12. Cathedrals (Clifford James Major) - I've had the feeling expressed here.
What the album's greatest accomplishment is, IMHO, would be the desire it leaves you with for more music. And that is always a great accomplishment. I look forward to another album, no matter the musical genre (there is a Nashville mention in the liner notes). That being said, as someone who grew up with folk music (along with other musical genres), I would absolutely love an album release from the Sheytoons (the folk-rock group that combines Karimloo with Hadley Fraser).
Lastly, should you buy the album? Well, do you enjoy Ramin's voice? Are you willing to try new things? Did you answer yes? Than, yes, you should buy this album...even if you have to import it.
Nevertheless, "Ramin" gives the listener an idea of the passion this young man has for his craft. So, listen and enjoy.
For those only familiar with his stage work, this might be a bit of a surprise at first. It's especially odd to hear him sing "The Music of the Night" and "'Til I Hear You Sing" in this style. I thought I didn't like it at first, but both of the tracks--especially "'Til I Hear You Sing"--have really grown on me just in the last few days. I've never heard anyone who can even approach him on that song, and while I'm not likely to recommend this version over any of the more traditional ones, don't dismiss it outright because it's different.
As for the rest, my favorites would probably be "Guiding Light," "Constant Angel," and "Everything I Do." (Oh yeah, I remember when you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing that song. Ramin rekindled my love for it.) He sang "Constant Angel" at the Easter Songs of Praise on April 8; there's a clip of it on YouTube somewhere--I recommend you check it out.
The overall tempo is mostly more mellow; there aren't really any up-tempo tracks. It's good for just sitting back and relaxing to. I've considered curling up in bed with my iPod and listening to it as I go to sleep, actually. It's not sleepy, but it's very soothing. I'd also say there's an overarching Christian undertone to the album, but nothing I'd specifically classify as Christian music.
Style-wise...and I never thought I could EVER say this about Ramin...there's actually a hint of country in some of his tracks. I notice it particularly on "Eyes of a Child," and to an extent "Constant Angel"--the Songs of Praise one even more so. It only served as further proof that he can do anything with his voice.
For that reason, we come to my only gripe about the album--autotune, the bane of modern music. If there was ever a singer who didn't need autotune, it's Ramin Karimloo. Whoever makes that decision must be tone deaf. And if he does, then I think he should go listen to some of his live recordings and rethink that decision for the next album. Actually, as one reviewer already mentioned, I also found that I prefer his live recordings. I think it's something about being a stage actor, feeding off the energy of the crowd. My favorite versions of probably two of his best songs (MotN and TIHYS) are both live...and if you haven't heard him do "Bring Him Home," go search NOW.
Bottom line: This is a fantastic sort-of debut (I'm excluding Within the Six Square Inch, since I don't think many people have even been able to track down a copy). It's the second-best birthday present I ever got...the first being tickets to see him in September! :D
The wonderful thing about this album is that it is not an album of theater songs from a theater star. It has several genres of music - I love the cover of Muse's Guiding Light. I am excited to see what his next album will have on it. I love that Ramin's influences are eclectic. Seriously - Johnny Cash? Muse? Mumford and Sons? Theater? The great thing is - Ramin can deliver. And deliver he does. Buy this CD (or Human Heart, the US release on June 5th)- you won't be disappointed.