CD Reviews: Lawrence Brownlee

From The Newark Star-Ledger, July 05 2013

“The singer has a golden tone and great technique.”

Reigning Rossini tenor Lawrence Brownlee shows flexibility beyond his usual fioratura as he trades opera for spirituals on a new recording with arrangements by Damien Sneed.

Although known for his agility and range, Brownlee’s voice also sustains well and sounds here like it could fit just about anything. It’s not a huge instrument, but the singer has a golden tone and great technique.

In stunning form, the singer forgoes aria ornaments for gospel riffs, especially effectively in “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” Sneed, who also accompanies, does excellent work as well. He draws out poignant harmonies in the introduction to “There Is a Balm in Gilead” and elaborates on the melody in a flowing interlude, but also knows when to take a backseat to the voice, as in “Deep River.”

Brownlee is energetic and loose on “Down by the Riverside” and his voice rings confidently in its sweet spot in “Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” in which Sneed’s meandering piano line amplifies the tension.

Read more: