Never Been Better
Girls Aloud's other one gets a whiff of the greasepaint.
While her bandmates spent the Girls Aloud hiatus making solo records of varying quality, or trying their hand at wooden acting, Kimberley Walsh trod the boards in Shrek The Musical, exercising a love of musical theatre that went back to her childhood. Now, the logical progression – an album of stage standards.
If you didn't know Walsh's history, Centre Stage would seem an odd move for a girl grouper's solo foray – no Calvin Harris-style productions, no will.i.am co-writes – but it's obvious her heart and soul's in this. Free from trying to mesh her voice with her pals', Walsh shows off an emotional range and sincerity perfect for the musicals.
Produced by Swedish pop team Per Magnusson and David Kreuger, the songs bask in a gorgeous synth ambience, shifting them nicely from their stagey origins. Walsh for her part tackles Randy Crawford's One Day I'll Fly Away (from Moulin Rouge), Evita's Another Suitcase In Another Hall and Les Miserables' On My Own with a sob in her voice, and the effect is engaging.
There are dodgy moments – the pain of As Long As He Needs Me (from Oliver!) isn't exactly conveyed in lounge jazz style, and Memory (from Cats) seems set on sticking around forever – but Centre Stage is good enough overall. Inessential, but heartfelt.