John Owen-Jones | Spotlight | Album Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
West End and Broadway star John Owen-Jones has performed in numerous musicals over the years and his fifth studio album, Spotlight, reaffirms why he continues to appear in iconic roles on theater stages around the world.
Straight away, JOJ pulls the listener in with his take of the hit song from the Hollywood blockbuster, The Greatest Showman, “From Now On.” He follows it with “Evermore” from the stage production of Beauty and the Beast and then moves onto a cover of “You Raise Me Up,” the most satisfying track on the album. These first three tracks showcase the chameleon-like qualities JOJ possesses with his voice.
It isn’t surprising that most of the songs originate in the musical theater realm, but unlike his past albums, this one focuses on material he has not performed on stage in a show, or songs he hasn’t explored since the beginning of his stage career. It was a relief to not see another track dedicated to “Bring Him Home” (Les Misérables) and “The Music of the Night” (The Phantom of the Opera). Instead, he chose to gender bend the title song from Love Never Dies, breathing life into the song that is otherwise missed when heard during the stage production. He also gender bent “I Dreamed A Dream’” from Les Misérables, giving the whole album a unique feel that allows it to stand out from the rest of his discography.
Other surprise gems include “The Prayer,” a duet between JOJ and Lucie Jones, along with “Goodbye” from Catch Me If You Can. While the album as a whole is a great background score to any event that calls for easy listening, the final track “While Floating High Above” from Ken Hill’s version of The Phantom of the Opera, a track that was a late addition to the album, brings everything together and leaves the listener with a longing for more of JOJ’s vocal expertise. This is one album that can be put on repeat and left for hours.