As beloved as John Barrowman is for his acting ability, you'd be surprised how many people don't know that he's also a singer. And not in the way that many actors try to branch out into singing careers. Barrowman is an astounding performer - his career actually began in musical theatre - who has consistently put out memorable albums. His latest, You Raise Me Up, is no exception to that high standard.
This compilation of covers tackles everything from Celine Dion to Barry Manilow to the aforementioned Josh Groban, and there's not a misfire on the list. The album hits that elusive sweet spot of being both familiar enough not to alienate fans of the original songs, and different enough to make it worth listening to.
Those folks not yet aware of John's musical aptitude will be impressed by the remarkable warmth and clarity of his vocals; there's a sincerity to everything he sings, and not once will you wonder what he said. Existing fans will enjoy hearing him perform songs like Michael Buble's "Hollywood" and Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper." You wouldn't think John Barrowman would be covering a Demi Lovato song, but he did and it is pretty impressive.
For those of you that are used to the more theatrical Barrowman, there's his version of Groban's "You Raise Me Up" and a take on Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years." And we dare you to listen to his earnest performance of Manilow's classic "Mandy" without being at least a tiny bit moved. John has a particular gift for taking on Manilow - see his version of "Weekend In New England" from his album Another Side - and he scores this time around as well.
Unlike John's previous releases, You Raise Me Up was crowd-funded by his fans via PledgeMusic, and released independently through his own Barrowman Barker Productions, independent of any record label. As he told us in our March interview, he chose every one of the eleven songs. That new approach really makes a difference in the finished product. There's a strong and varied collection of tracks here, showing off just how John's voice can handle just about everything, and you really feel like you're getting to know him a little bit better through the music.
No matter who you are, there's a reason to own this album. The legion of Barrowman fans will delight in getting to hear even more versatility in his music, while those of you who are simply fans of good music shouldn't miss the opportunity to hear one of the strongest male vocalists in the business today. Whether it's a current hit or a beloved classic, John Barrowman can sing it all, and sing it all phenomenally well.