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Album Review

Although classical crossover artists are not unique, few are truly adept at handling the subtleties of pop music, as they simply bend their quasi-operatic voices to fit into the confines of a pop melody. It's a bit like watching a seven-foot basketball star exit his limo, and then fold his body into a little sports car — he may be able to get into the auto, but it's not necessarily a comfortable fit. Russell Watson is the rare exception who is comfortable in both settings, as listening to him is like listening to two distinct people; there is the powerful tenor who can handle the rigorous demands of operatic solos, and there is the suave Europop singer who can deftly navigate the intricacies of a popular song. Unlike his contemporaries, Watson has the unique ability to actually change his voice in order to fit the style of music he is performing. An example of this morphing technique can be heard on the first two tracks of Reprise, his third solo disc. Opening with Cottrau's "Santa Lucia," Watson's well-supported tenor sounds like a younger, less-excitable Mario Lanza as he gives a warm reading to this Italian favorite. Then, as if a multi-CD player were set on shuffle mode, a breathy and slightly husky voice enters in on "Immenso Sogno," a European-style pop ballad that Watson sings in a hushed tone devoid of any classical technique. The difference is immediate and effective, and allows Watson to successfully live in two separate musical worlds that embrace his talents. However, there are drawbacks on each side of the fence. Although his tenor is getting stronger, he will most likely not be able to obtain the majestic richness and depth of a true master like Pavarotti, but that's just fine, as his capable work can still be admired and enjoyed. On the pop music side, Watson doesn't always select the best English-language songs to cover, as evidenced by the inclusion of Mike + the Mechanics' "The Living Years," in which the listless arrangement and repetitive structure simply do not mesh with the balance of the disc. In addition to that misstep, there is not much on Reprise that is different from its two predecessors, except for the fact that Watson's voice is improving. Basically, it adds up to a pleasant listen that will continue to charm audiences of both pop and classical music. [The 2002 import of Reprise, Rovi


Born: November 23, 1966 in Salford, Lancashire, England

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

British tenor Russell Watson became an opera singer by freak occurrence. While he was regularly singing in bars and clubs in the Manchester suburbs, an owner of one such venue told Watson that he thought his voice was better suited for opera and requested that he learn Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," which he did and promptly added to his set. Watson eventually signed with Decca Records, issuing his debut, entitled The Voice, in September of 2000. Nicknamed "the People's Tenor" (since he likes to chat...
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Reprise, Russell Watson
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