Will Dame Vera Lynn become the first centenarian to hit the number one spot in the album chart when her new album, Vera Lynn 100, is released tomorrow? I wouldn’t bet against the original Forces Sweetheart as her last album achieved the top spot just a few years ago, meaning she would beat her own record as the oldest person to achieve a number one album.
On this album, Dame Vera’s original vocals have been set to new orchestrations, courtesy of Morgan Pochin who of course have produced and arranged several of Alfie’s albums. The result is a masterclass of gorgeous accompaniments that show off Dame Vera’s vocals to perfection whilst bringing out the best in each duet partner.
Unsurprisingly, my favourite track is the album opener, We’ll Meet Again featuring Alfie Boe; the arrangement allows Alfie’s voice to soar but never to overshadow our Forces Sweetheart in one of her most famous songs.
Of the other duets, The White Cliffs of Dover with Alexander Armstrong and As Time Goes By with Aled Jones stand out for me. Armstrong’s TV persona on Pointless is very much that of a smiley, affable gentleman and you can hear the smile in his voice on his track, just as you can hear the same in Jones’ voice. Cynthia Erivo, on When You Wish Upon A Star is also beautiful and elegantly understated. Of the songs that aren’t duets, the highlight is Sailing which I wasn’t aware that Dame Vera had recorded but apparently I’m not alone in that! The recording has not been widely known and is a real find on this album. I loved it.
The warmth of these tracks seems to reflect the way Britain in general feels about Dame Vera; rarely, if ever, can there have been a singer who so transcends one genre of entertainment whilst also representing such a precise period of history. So closely linked is she with the Second World War that even those who were born long after the event still know her to be the “Forces Sweetheart”, regardless of who has held the title since.
This album is a delight to be enjoyed by all – we all know the songs so we can all sing along and indulge in one of our favourite national pastimes, nostalgia, whilst listening to an array of wonderful singers paying tribute to a national treasure. I’ll leave the last word to Dame Vera herself:
It’s truly humbling that people still enjoy these songs from so many years ago, reliving the emotions of that time…and it’s so wonderful for me to hear ‘my songs’ again so beautifully presented in a completely new way.
I have one copy of this album to give away – just answer the question below* and the lucky winner will be drawn at random on 24 March!
Vera Lynn 100 is available here:
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Thanks for that review Jane, I love the album obviously the first track especially but having worked most of my life in old folks homes these old songs were forever being played and I love ’em