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Latest ReleaseView All
A Song For You
Release date: 11.4.22
Press Releases View All
Actor Singer/Songwriter Luke Evans Duets With Nicole Kidman On New Single “Say Something”Read More
Actor Luke Evans Duets With Charlotte Church On Moulin Rouge! Classic ‘Come What May’Read More
Actor Singer/Songwriter Luke Evans Announces New Album A Song For You Out Nov 4 On BMGRead More
Luke Evans would be the first to admit it: he lives his best life. Or, lives. The Welshman is in huge demand as an actor, in the UK and internationally. From cinematic thrill-ride to prestige TV drama, classic big-screen animation to small-screen police procedurals, action to comedy to thriller: Evans can switch with ease between them all.
But give him half a chance – and, ideally but not essentially, a microphone – and the star of The Hobbit, The Alienist, Fast and Furious 6, Dracula Untold and Beauty and the Beast will do what he's always loved first and foremost: sing.
“I love singing live,” he says with an unabashed smile, “I love performing. In fact, I was in a restaurant in the mountains above Alicante last night and I sang Roberta Flack’s First Time Ever I Saw Your Face to 12 people in this garden! I can't help myself!” Evans laughs.
“That’s the song I sing a capella, when I’m with friends or a little tipsy at birthdays or weddings,” he continues. “I’m connected to it in a very authentic way. I even sang it at a charity do when a guy at a dinner table offered ten grand if I sang it on the spot. The auctioneer looked at me and said: ‘That’s a big song, you cannot fuck that up, otherwise you’re gonna ruin the night!’ But it went down a storm. Ask Paloma Faith.”
That passion fuels everything Evans does. It’ll be front and centre in his next film, Netflix’s animated take on the musical Scrooge, to be released this Christmas, featuring songs by the legendary Leslie Bricusse and on which Evans duets with co-star Jessie Buckley. And it was the beating heart of his first album, 2019’s At Last, a beautiful collection of pop and standards, covers and reworks: Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time, Bring Him Home from Les Misérables, Say You Love Me by Jessie Ware and, yes, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
“Just to be able to record the album in the first place was something I had always dreamt about, as a kid as a teenager," he reflects. "And then as a young musical theatre actor, I still dreamt of it. So to do it was a huge thing for me, and achievement – a big bucket list moment to tick. And then for it to do so well, for me to get to sing on the Royal Variety performance and sing in different countries, was great.”
A Song For You, his second album, reveals him to be a triple-threat: actor, singer, songwriter. It draws its title from the Donny Hathaway song that’s one of Evans’ lifelong favourites and with which he opens the 14-song selection. His soaring tenor, unaccompanied, lifts the curtain with spine-tingling soulfulness before piano, brushed drums and, eventually, stately, atmospheric strings join him.
But the foundations are four songs that speak to both his talent and to the respect in which he’s held by his peers: two tracks he’s written with songwriter Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, Jessie Ware, James Blunt, Sam Ryder), and two stellar duets, with Nicole Kidman (on Say Something, as made famous by Christina Aguilera) and Charlotte Church (on the Moulin Rouge! tearjerker Come What May).
Overall, the focus is again on covers carefully curated from Evans’ huge hinterland of musical loves. The rich orchestral backing is courtesy of Prague’s Philharmonic Orchestra, with additional glorious, full-voiced support on key tracks from the world-famous, 130-year-old Treorchy Male Voice Choir.
There’s alt.rock balladry in the shape of Everybody Hurts, with the succour and support inherent in R.E.M.'s magisterial original amplified by Evans’ intimate, vocally limber performance. There are festive classics from 1818 and 1984, in the shape of Silent Night and Last Christmas, which show how Evans can master the hymnal, as well as he can modern pop.
And there are boldly inspired covers of some towering moments in 20th century composition: Over The Rainbow, rendered with spine-tingling yearning; My Way, which builds from a brilliant, quiet vocal to a tower of song showcasing the epic reach of Evans’ voice; and Bridge Over Troubled Water, with the singer going toe-to-toe, tonsil-to-tonsil with the great Art Garfunkel.
Then, digging back into his roots and his DNA, his heart and his hearth, is Evans’ powerfully moving rendition of traditional Welsh hymn Calon Lân.
“That’s a nod to my heritage and how proud I am of my little country and the people. This song is a thread within each one of us who are Welsh. We've all sung it, at a rugby match or in front of the telly, or in or even in church. And of course, we had to have a Welsh male voice choir! It's a pretty eclectic mix, Donny Hathaway to Calon Lân – but they’re all my choices, and every one of them means something to me.”
Particularly meaningful are those self-penned songs, Horizons Blue and Busy Breaking Yours.
“What's lovely about this album is that it showcases where my voice sits the best. It's full of very big crowd-pleasers – I know from the success of the last album that people wanted to hear me sing these kinds of songs. But this time they're also hearing original tracks. I'm really proud of that.”
After the release of At Last Evans found himself in the privileged position of all his loves colliding – at home, in Wales.
He was back in the day job, shooting The Pembrokeshire Murders in Cardiff and Pembrokeshire. Ahead of filming he’d made contact with Amy Wadge, who lived not far from one of the locations.
“Amy came to set one day and we had lunch together. I said: ‘I'd love to write with you. I have written a lot of lyrics. I've written a lot of poetry. But I don't know if I can write a song.’”
He showed the hitmaker some vocals and lyrics he'd recorded on his phone. An impressed Wadge agreed to collaborate and took his ideas away with her.
“Then Covid hit. I was in Florida, she was in Pontypridd. So I ordered all the recording equipment I needed so I could work remotely from my laptop. And we did zoom calls, me and Amy.
The irresistible earworm of Horizons Blue – Evans singing, both hushed and high, over simple acoustic guitar and the gentlest of strings – “is a very hopeful song. It’s about falling in love, those moments when you first meet someone, when you see all the detail in them and you just soak them in. Everything is optimistic at that moment.
“I wrote it in Florida during lockdown, as the sun was coming up over the Atlantic. I was sitting on the beach and the horizon was as blue as the sea. You couldn’t see the difference between the two. And there was nothing there because there was no transport – no ships, no planes. Just me and the ocean and a couple of pelicans.
“And I just thought how beautiful and optimistic and open was the idea of horizons blue. So that became the title of the song, and the rest of it just flew out – I wrote it all within an hour. Then three hours later, I zoomed with Amy in Pontypridd and we completed a demo within two hours. That's really amazing for me, because I'd never written. I knew that I could do it, but I just needed to be guided. And who better to do that with than Amy Wadge?”
As for the aching Busy Breaking Yours, “it’s a song about regret, about how sometimes the right things happen at the wrong time, and the wrong things happen at the right time. If you could go back and do something different, how would you go about it?
“We all live with good memories and bad memories,” Evans continues. “But we have to learn to live with them because they don't disappear… So it's a song about loss, regret, apologies – and a cathartic way of getting through an experience.”
Then, with appropriate fanfare, there are the duets.
His gorgeous collaboration with Kidman on Say Something – for which Aguilera and A Great Big World won the 2015 Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – came after the actors met during the filming of Hulu mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers in Australia. They spent five months working together, bonding offset, along with Kidman’s husband Keith Urban, in their shared love of music.
“Then when we wrapped the show, she had a dinner one night in her and Keith's house in Sydney. And after dinner, Nicole was like: ‘Right, you're singing, Keith's gonna play the piano. He'll play anything, just tell him the song.’ So everybody came around the grand piano in their living room and I sang Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. I knew that Nicole loved to sing, so she was joining in.”
Evans remembered that night when he was preparing to cover Say Something. He felt Kidman would be the perfect duet partner – although, equally, he knew how busy she is. But she responded instantly and enthusiastically to his suggestion.
“I already had that song in my head, because I knew that it would fit Nicole's voice very well, that I could blend our voices. So I sent them the track, and Keith was like, ‘genius – I couldn't have thought of a better track.’” The couple recorded Kidman’s part in Urban’s Nashville studio. “He sent me a little video of her in the booth recording. And she loved every minute of it. She was so grateful that I'd asked her. I was, like, ‘grateful? You have no idea how grateful I am!’ But she's a lovely woman, and a friend, and very generous with their time. To do something like this was really special.”
As for the frankly barnstorming duet with Church on the Moulin Rouge! Epic Come What May, with the orchestra at their widescreen best, that’s another lovely full-circle moment for Evans. He’s known the singer since she was 10, and they shared a singing teacher at the beginnings of their respective careers.
“We're very close. I'm so proud of her, how she's developed into a level-headed, inspirational woman, mother and performer. So I said: ‘What do you think about singing Come What May with me?’ She said she'd love to, and we said we were going to knock it out of the park. We decided to just build, build, build, and make it as anthem-like as we possibly could – and then put the Treorchy Male Voice Choir in the background.
It all adds up to a follow-up album that speaks to every corner of Luke Evans’ heart, every aspect of his enthusiasms and loves. He hopes his friend Michael Stipe will appreciate his spin on Everybody Hurts, and that fans of George Michael will embrace his cover of Last Christmas.
“It's much slower – it's a ballad now,” he says of his take on Wham!’s seasonal staple. “It's a big leap from the original, but I've always loved reinventing songs, taking the tempo and stripping it down and restructuring it and seeing if it works. I did it on the first album with a couple of tracks. I turned a Cher track into a heart wrenching torch song! So I thought I would do the same thing with this, a different version of a very special song.”
That ethos is at the heart of A Song for You. Always-busy filming schedules, Evans hopes to tour the album next year, not least because his live plans for At Last were curtailed by Covid. But whatever happens, he’s intent on enjoying the ride.
“I'm just really grateful that I got to do it the second time,” he reflects. “Because the first time, once the album was out and it had done really well and I was back to my other life, it just felt like it was… fleeting. But doing it this time, I absorbed every moment of it, and more slowly. This time, I felt like I wasn't running, I was walking. I was able to take in the scenery.
“I just feel really lucky as a singer, my first love, to do it again,” Evans concludes, “and to sing these magical songs on an album which I'll have for the rest of my life. I want everyone else to share that joy, too.”
- Official Site
- People Magazine - Interview
- Build - Interview
- Good Morning America - US performance debut
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