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Ah, Luke Evans. He’s the actor who has played some of my favorite sleazy-sexy-insane characters ever – see this as an example – and now he sings too. The whiplash is real, especially when At Last is a collection of cover versions of his favorite songs, and I realize that his favorite songs coincide with mine. Not that the songs here are all winners, though. If you are allergic to cheese and sap, beware, as Mr Evans has gone the admittedly rather clichéd-by-now route of turning every song into a gentle ballad soaked in strings and piano.
The most offensive example of this is his version of Cher’s glorious If I Could Turn Back Time, which has been de-fanged and muted into a ballad stripped of any hint of passion and defiance. It doesn’t work for me, although I will forgive him if he did a music video wearing that bikini the way Cher did in hers. Similarly, his take of U2’s With or Without You is outright blasphemy to my sensibilities, but that could be due to the fact that, as much of a hypocritical twat that Bono is today, that song remains one of my favorite songs ever. Mr Evans brings in some choir to do some ooh-ooh-ooh bits here and there, but as much as this version would be otherwise okay enough under any other circumstances, and as much as Mr Evans almost sounds like Bono at times, U2’s original version is sacred to me. Only Scala and Kolacny Brothers could get away with covering this song – sorry, but I can’t give Mr Evans a pass on this. Some songs cannot be touched, ever.
On the other hand, his version of Always Remember Us This Way from A Star Is Born is solid, with him sounding like an authentic country crooner throughout it all. Likewise, his version of Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me is competent enough to work, although parts of it too much like a karaoke performance at times. His effort at channeling Des’ree in I’m Kissing You, from Romeo + Juliet, is also pretty good, with his vocals soaring up and down effortlessly through the refrains. Of course, Des’ree is untouchable, but this performance will probably be a big hit with the judges from The Voice or something.
Maria McKee’s Show Me Heaven, another one of my all-time favorite songs, is given a more conventional male balladeer spin here, and while I will always be in love with Ms McKee’s version, I have to admit that this one isn’t bad too. This song is clearly written for a female vocalist, though, and it really shows at the melodramatic peaks during the chorus. Imagining him in air force pilot uniform while singing this song helps make the song more enjoyable, I have to admit.
All in all, At Last is a competent effort. Mr Evans is a pretty decent vocalist, I feel, and his version of Bring Him Home from Les Misérables is certainly much, much better than Hugh Jackman’s. The whole thing can also be very cheesy, though, as he sounds too much like a karaoke fan trying too hard to be dramatic with his vocals at times. There is a TV talent show realness here which may not always be a good thing. Still, he gets some points for effort, and the pretty cover photo doesn’t hurt as well.