Review by Daz Gale
Readers of this website may be more familiar with Beverley Knight for her career in musical theatre with knockout roles in The Drifters Girl, Sister Act and Sylvia, for which she won an Olivier award, in the last 2 years alone. Before she prepares to don the habit one more time for an encore run of Sister Act next year, she is returning to music for her first album of new material in 7 years, ‘The Fifth Chapter’. But what does this latest chapter of Beverley's illustrious career sound like?
For those who may not know of Beverley’s back catalogue, she first burst on to the scene in 1995 with the brilliant ‘Flavour Of The Old School’ and went on to score hits through the 1990s and 2000s with classics such as ‘Come As You Are’, ‘Keep This Fire Burning’ and the timeless ‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’. Ten years ago, she began a second career in musical theatre with a role in The Bodyguard which quickly led to roles in Memphis (Bring it back already) and Cats as well as combining both careers with the ‘Leading Ladies’ album alongside Amber Riley and Cassidy Janson. Now she is back with her ninth studio album, and anyone expecting a bit of theatre from this one may need to get used to a different stage.
The singles Beverley has released from this project so far give a good indication of where she is heading musically. Having been known for her soul and funk sounds in the past, this album moves slightly more into disco territory, creating a feel-good, predominantly upbeat album which feels the perfect tonic for a rainy day or to shut yourself away from the problems of the world - a feeling she reaffirms on the uplifting album closer 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright'. First single ‘Last One On My Mind’ and its recent follow up ‘Systematic Overload’ are up there with Beverley’s best – with their immediately catchy, earworm sound ensuring you don’t forget them in a hurry.
Other highlights in the album are the disco tinged ‘Queen Of Everything’ (an appropriately named title, considering Beverley’s immaculate track record through her versatile career) and the fabulous ‘Nostalgia’ managing to sound contemporary yet classic and proving, nearly 30 years into her career, Beverley is capable of making new music just as good as the classics that provide us with nostalgia. She is at her soulful best on the slower ‘Not Prepared For You’ – an instant standout on a consistently strong album, while ‘Cold World’ featuring the London Community Gospel Choir is as rousing as collaboration as you would expect.
While Beverley Knight’s albums have varied in genres over the years, one consistency remains throughout – her voice. One of the most gifted singers and greatest talents in the UK, Beverley has the kind of voice that can only be described as a gift from God. Instantly recognisable and inimitable, the power it possesses alongside her unrivalled ability to tell a story and channel all emotion from the words means whenever she opens her mouth to sing is a blessing in itself. ‘The Fifth Chapter’ is no exception to that, once again proving what a force to be reckoned with she really is.
‘The Fifth Chapter’ is another example of Beverley’s incredible artistry and showcases her talents beautifully. Feeling fresh in contrast to her previous material while still sounding distinctively like a Beverley Knight album, she really has struck gold with this stunning collection of songs. With many achievements under her belt in various incarnations over the past 28 years, this new chapter sounds like it might be her best yet.
The Fifth Chapter is now available to stream everywhere.
Beverley is on tour from 17th October. Full dates and tickets from www.beverleyknight.com