I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Hugh Laurie is a ridiculously talented man. While famous around the world for playing the much loved doctor in the television series House, in which he also put on a quite convincing American accent (he’s British), he started off his career in the world of comedy, often alongside Stephen Fry in such shows as Blackadder, A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, and Jeeves and Wooster. Top all this off with several movie appearances, and even the novel he wrote, The Gun Seller, and the fact that he has now turned to music and released his second album kind of makes him seem like a show off. But, with talent like this, he’s allowed to show off.
His first album, Let Them Talk, ventured into the New Orleans style of blues music, as he covered many of his lifelong favourite songs with musicians who he has always looked up to. With his follow up album, Didn’t It Rain, he continues this bluesy sound but explores music from the rest of America from this same time period. The main album has thirteen tracks, though there is a deluxe version with an extra five track disc that is worth getting if only for this song, “Unchain My Heart” (and his little talk at the start of the clip is quite funny – you’ll see why):
There are some definite differences between this new album and his first. While he took lead vocals on almost all of the tracks on his first album, this time around he shares lead vocal duties with the incredibly talented Jean McClain and Gaby Moreno on three tracks each, and Taj Mahal sings lead vocals on another song. The extra voices, particularly the strong female vocals, really add a lot to this album, giving it a very different mood to the first. There’s a lot of slower or quieter songs near the start too, although it starts to liven up a bit in the second half, which I quite like.
Reading through the liner notes, Hugh Laurie is very modest about playing these songs, and makes it clear that he does it because he loves the music so much, and they clearly mean so much to him. He brings each and every song to life in his own unique way, with that surprisingly strong and crisp voice of his, and he explains the story behind each song in the album notes as well – he hasn’t just chosen a bunch of songs at random but has very carefully selected what he wants to sing and perform.
After a few listens, I find myself almost as impressed with this new album as I was with his first, which is saying a lot. If you haven’t heard Hugh Laurie’s music yet, you really are missing out – it’s a lot of fun, and very addictive to listen to. I’ll finish off with another of my favourite tracks, “Wild Honey”:
What are your thoughts on Hugh Laurie as a musician and singer?