John Barrowman – Another Side

John Barrowman - Another SideBetter known for covering Cole Porter tunes and Broadway standards, John Barrowman takes his first swipe at mainstream pop – largely from the ’70s and ’80s – and reaches for the same earnestness and grandeur with that material. He manages to hit a few right out of the park, too – his covers of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman” and Elton John’s “Your Song” are winners. I’m not saying they’re replacing the originals in my musical affections, but they’re top-flight as reinterpretations go. There are even a few songs whose original records I don’t care for, but do enjoy here – Air Supply’s “All Out Of Love” and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, “Feeling Good”, a musical number that takes on an almost sinister air with Barrowman’s performance. I don’t know if that was actually the intention, but something about the arrangement and his vocal take on the song screams “seedy & dangerous” to me, which isn’t something that I get from the lyrics alone. (I’ll fess up here that I’m not a great consumer of musical theater, so I may be missing something in that context that has though in the know saying “Duh!” to me at this point.)

A few of these songs don’t quite soar that far, though – while they’re competent enough performances, the covers of the Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” just don’t do much for me. Nice enough to listen to, but I didn’t go back and listen to them again immediately like I did “Feeling Good” and some of the others. The cover of Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” knocks the song down a few keys to fit Barrowman’s range (which certainly doesn’t seem to be lacking anywhere else on the album), and while it’s pleasant enough, a big part of the original song was its production; it’s an interesting reading, but Peter Cetera need not quake in his boots.

The album seems to peter out a little bit toward the end – Eric Carman’s “All By Myself” is a song I’ve always considered to be a flat attempt at a faux-epic power ballad, and it’s just not a favorite of mine, to put it charitably (I will fess up to also having a blind spot for break-up songs). Even Barrowman, making his best attempt, can’t elevate that material for me, and I wind up skipping that track quite a bit (or at least hitting stop early, since it’s the last thing on the album) and thinking dude, sing something else – anything else. Your mileage may vary, however – I admit upfront that I’ve not a fan of that number in general.

3 out of 4Overall, I find Another Side very enjoyable. Golden Throats, it ain’t – Barrowman has a renowned career in musical theater, whenever he’s not traveling in the TARDIS or taming treacherous terrors with Torchwood – but it is a departure for Barrowman’s standard-centric recording career. Still, the guy can flat-out sing, and I could probably tick off about a dozen more songs I’d like to hear him tackle.

Order this CD

  1. All Out Of Love (3:55)
  2. You’re So Vain (3:55)
  3. She’s Always A Woman (3:23)
  4. Time After Time (3:59)
  5. Weekend In New England (3:47)
  6. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (2:33)
  7. If You Leave Me Now (3:43)
  8. Your Song (3:19)
  9. Please Remember Me (4:22)
  10. Heaven (4:04)
  11. Being Alive (3:13)
  12. Feeling Good (3:59)
  13. All By Myself (4:25)

Released by: Sony / BMG
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 48:37