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CD Feature/ Katherine Jenkins: "Second Nature"

img  Tobias

By the time of her second album, the debates whether or not this was still Classical music and whether or not she could sing, had died down. Katherine Jenkins had  cheered on the Welsh rugby team, appeared in almost every TV show as well as every awards ceremony imaginable and been such an adorable person and persuasive performer at it, that even her most passionate opponents had to admit there was more to this lady than just looks. After “Second Nature”, of course, all of the points, which could possibly have been brought against her, were utterly pointless anyway – it’s pretty hard arguing with more than 500.000 copies of this record sold in the UK alone. You’d also be ill advided snubbing Jenkins for the mere fact that she’s a blockbuster, simply because there’d be quite a lot you’d miss.

Still, there’s an instruction manual which goes with “Second Nature”. First of all you have to let go. Stop expecting any drastic changes from Jenkins’ first effort, “Premiere”. This is yet another go at a selection of carefully balanced classical favourites, contemporary pieces in a classical style, some seasonal material (this was released at Christmas at the time) and excerpts from Hollywood scores (“Hannibal”, “Saving Private Ryan”). So, at least when it comes to repertoire, she sticks to her guns and does what she does best: Playing the popular tune. On top of that, it would also be a good idea to quit thinking of Opera as a “bigger, better, faster, more” genre. Katherine’s vocal range is certainly lightyears from what Britney Spears could ever dream of (or would ever, for that matter), but she interprets these fifteen songs like pure pop: “Time to say goodbye”, “I love you very much, very, very much, you know”, “Oh moon, tell me, oh where is my lover”, girl wants boy and how will they get together – beyond this horizon, there is nothing. Not that there need be. For whatever so-called experts are telling you in their forums, blogs and arts supplements, opera has hardly ever been about nurturing the elite, but about pleasing the crowd. “Second Nature” is one of these albums, which you’ll put up and instantly feel at home with. It’s a great companion to cooking pasta, to adorning the christmas tree, to sitting on the couch with your loved one or to simply have a glass of red wine on your own. Her version of Lucio Dalla’s ode to “Caruso” is tender and heartwrenching, she sounds natural and unpretentious in Dvorak’s “Song to the Moon” and her duet with tenor Rhys Meirion of superficial beauty. The more you surrender to it, the better it gets.

C’mon, admit it: You enjoy a simple and direct tune as well, one of those which go straight to the heart. And that’s exactly what you are going to get here. So, to return to our manual, you will have to be able to accept a decent dose of sentiment, or else the muffled horns and sadly rolling drums of the tear-drenched dirge “Hymn to the Fallen” will be wasted on you. But if you can, “Second Nature” has the potential to turn into a dear friend and an album, which you’ll like to play in some of those special moments. With its mix of catchy and stirring material, it takes us back to a time, when people would hum opera melodies on the street and Caruso was a pop star. As such, it is more classical than critics-pleasing Classicall’art pour l’art could ever be. 

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Katherine Jenkins
Homepage: Universal Classics

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