Review Summary: Several missteps in production push The Gift beyond simple cheese and into horrendous territory.5 of 5 thought this review was well written
By now you’ve all heard Susan Boyle’s uplifting, underdog story about being ugly and (shock, stun, amaze!
) being able to sing as well. Nobody will ever hold her voice against her as there’s simply no denying she's at the very least halfway decent. Her debut album, I Dreamed A Dream
, showcased that well and unsurprisingly shot straight to the top of the charts. There was only one major issue with it, and that was the over-sentimentality. Every song was doused in it, destroying many of the covers and making the entire thing a tiresome affair. For those of you who liked that (I know you’re out there), you’ll be pleased to know that The Gift
is no different; Boyle’s conviction and skill is still on full display. Ultimately it’s not her fault that this album is a disaster, it’s the producer, Steve Mac’s. Normally I wouldn’t say that, but there are some genuinely head-scratching moments that I find hard to believe Boyle created.
The worst of these is the chorus to her cover of “Don’t Dream Its Over”. If you’re at all familiar with the original song by Crowded House, you’ll be aware that backing vocals are essential for it. Very few vocalists have the power to hold it up on their own. Boyle is not among them though, so a choir has been tacked on to help her out a bit. Except the choir doesn’t help, at all. They overpower her and create a high-pitched wall of sound that is actually painful to listen to. If there was one thing that I Dreamed A Dream
didn’t have it was blatantly horrible moments. It was pure cheese, but it never sunk any lower then that.
There are more moments that leave the listener questioning what went through Mac’s head when he let them onto the final product. The strings in the beginning of “Perfect Day” sound menacing, which is rather in contrast to the original tone that Lou Reed set. The song is about having the best day of your life, simple as that, so why are we treated to an orchestra that made me wonder if a murderer was standing behind me? There’s also the cropping of Hallelujah’s third verse. Just when the song should soar with one of its most powerful lines (“Love is not a victory”), it drops away to a final rendition of the chorus and then ends. If they’re trying to keep the song more accessible than they shouldn’t be using it in the first place. It’s like offering someone a large hot dog and then telling them that they’re only allowed half of it because someone else only likes small hot dogs. Dammit man, I want my large hot dog!
The sole shining light on The Gift
is Boyle’s duet with Amber Stassi on “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. For once the production isn’t horrendous and the women’s voices are given the chance to do what we all know they’re capable of. Amber Stassi, interestingly enough, easily out performs Susan Boyle. Her charisma and power put to shame a lot of the rest of the album. Speaking of that, it’s not even worth mentioning any of the last 6 songs; you’ve heard every single one of them performed before on dozens of other albums. Nothing worthwhile is brought to the table and the second half of the album ends up being as generic as you can imagine.
might have been an acceptable Christmas album (the usual cash grab that just about every record company aims for), but a few heinous errors in the production department drag it down. I would say that Boyle’s future is looking bleak, but we all know there’s going to be one more album at the very least. If this is any indication of what to expect next year, I for one am worried.