Reviewed in London by Paul Vale for The Stage.
It has to be said that one couldn’t accuse Gary Williams’ latest album of false advertising. A selection of Broadway standards are given a swing beat and sung with inexorable charm by the silver-tongued Williams. With a delivery reminiscent of a Sinatra who maybe drank and smoked less, Williams puts a smile into each song without making it sound cheesy or insincere.
Chim Chim Cheree opens the set, perhaps indicating the joys to come, with Williams darker tones taking precedence, a method carried through with You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile. This is not solely a classics album however and there is an almost tongue in cheek rendition of Wonderful from Wicked and a decidedly more mature version of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Spamalot that are particularly successful. There is a generosity present in this album, with Williams giving plenty of time to his accomplished musicians. Who Will Buy allows a superb saxophone solo by Luke Annesley, whilst guitarist Phil Lee features broadly in the Miss Chicken Little number. On a Clear Day is given a preppy twist with Justin Woodward’s vibraphone riff. Clive Dunstall is the pianist throughout, offering excellent accompaniment.
There isn’t an uncertain or tremulous choice here with Williams attacking each number with clarity and the confidence expected of such a seasoned performer. With Williams a regular on Radio 4’s Loose Ends, it is fitting that the album’s affectionate introduction notes are penned by the late Ned Sherrin.