Darren Percival – A Tribute to Ray Charles Review

The Voice Runner Up Releases his First Album

Darren Percival, the runner up to Karise Eden in Australia’s version of The Voicethis year, released his album this week, A Tribute to Ray Charles. Well the whole story is there in the title, the Album features 15 of Ray Charles most well known songs performed really well by Mr Percival.

Like Karise’s album it is an unusual choice for a first off mainstream album. Karise’s album was a collection of covers, with one exception, from various artists and mainly songs that she performed on The Voice. Similarly Darren’s album is all covers, but all by one of the best songwriters and performers of the last century.

I understand why the record companies go for this type of album. They want to cash in on the success of the TV show and want to give the public something very accessible and, after all, the TV show was all about singing covers. But it does add to the feeling among “real musicians” that this type of TV talent show is selling out and has no musical integrity.

In Darren’s case I can fully understand the safety stance of the people behind the album. I have listened to some of Darren’s pre The Voice songs and although he has some very good songs, not all of them are easily accessible to the masses, or radio friendly. This kind of explains why a man of 40 something, with such a great voice, has not reached a wider audience before now.

Now a few words for those readers, who may not be as familiar with Ray CharlesRaywas a blind piano player and singer who had a string of hit songs in the 50’s and 60’s many of which are covered on this album. Ray was a pioneer of soul music and some believe the man most responsible for developing the genre. As well as having a great soul voice Rayplayed piano and keyboards and was a great musical arranger and band leader.

Ray Charles never restricted himself to soul music alone, he sang jazz, blues, R&B and even country music. He continued to perform pretty much right up until his death in 2004 and continued to be popular. He was also a musician’s musician and the greats loved to sing with him. Two of his most popular albums in his last years were Genius Loves Company and Genius and Friends (released after his death) which feature duets with Norah Jones, James Taylor, Elton John, Chris Isaak, May J Blige and George Michael to name a few.

If you like this album and I am sure you will, you should check out the movie Ray which stars Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, if you haven’t caught it already.

OK back to Darren Percival’s album, the track list is:

• 01. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
• 02. I Can’t Stop Loving You
• 03. I Got A Woman
• 04. Georgia On My Mind
• 05. Hit The Road Jack
• 06. Drown In My Own Tears
• 07. Unchain My Heart
• 08. Shake A Tail Feather
• 09. Busted
• 10. Your Cheatin’ Heart
• 11. Night Time Is The Right Time
• 12. Ain’t That Love
• 13. What Would I Do Without You
• 14. You Don’t Know Me
• 15. What’d I Say

Darren’s The Voice co-competitors Prinnie Stevens and Mahalia Barnes are featured on three tracks, as is Australian jazz musician / multi instrumentalist James Morrison.

Darren’s voice is great and the songs are classics. If you liked him on The Voice you will like this album, I have no doubt. The backing musicians are faultless too.

The stand out tracks, for me, are Night Time is The Right TimeYou Don’t Know Me and What’d I Say.

It is a good album and many people will play it regularly, but I prefer artists to make their own mark before they release an album like this.

That said, I wish Darrren the best of luck. There is no doubt that he is a talented musician and deserves whatever comes to him. We will undoubtedly be seeing him on TV again soon promoting the album.

You will find other tracks and albums from Darren Percival and Ray Charles that you may be interested in below