Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate unknown, is the debut 1999 album You, Me & Us, by British television and West End actress, Martine McCutcheon, but was this album cosy, or heading towards a lover’s Tiff? Read on…
The album opens with her hit lead single Perfect Moment. This song appeared from nowhere, and catapulted Martine from EastEnders actress to a pop star. Musically, her name is synonymous with this track, and she deserves the success that this song found her. It’s a soft, slow ballad, but Martine definitely gives it her all in the vocals. It’s a good start, even if it does feel quite long (it’s not, it’s 3m 45s).
Next is Falling Apart which opens with some gentle strummed guitars. Martine’s soon on the mic and showing off her rich and precise voice. This is the first of four of Martine’s co-written songs, and it suits her perfectly.
Second single I’ve Got You follows this. This sees Martine take a much lower vocal register to start with, and it feels a little uncomfortable for her. Suddenly though, she’s hopped up a scale for the chorus, taking her safely into an almost Michelle McManus or a sleepier S Club 7. Unfortunately she returns to the lower register for the verses, and it becomes quite bland. Despite this, it gave her a #6 UK hit single.
Third and final double A side single Talking In Your Sleep is next, and we’re into sleepy ballad again complete with finger snaps. To some degree, you can hear stage show power ballad here, and unfortunately it is somewhat dreary, and would have no doubt fared better in the hands of someone like Celine Dion, or just keep it with the original artist (Crystal Gayle). Again, despite this, the magic of Martine delivered another #6 UK hit single.
Secret Garden is next, and the lights go down for what sounds like a sexy, breathy song, that you might expert from its euphemistic title. This sounds like it could have easily been recorded by All Saints. This track was co-written by Matt Goss of Bros, and is actually quite good, and a welcome break from style.
A tinkling piano leads us into Rainy Days, breaking into an upbeat dance pop song with a beats loop that reminds me of Everything But The Girl’s 1994 hit Missing. Martine breezes through the vocals here, and the result is a nice sounding little pop song.
Title track You, Me & Us is next and we’re starting off back down to acoustic guitar and vocals. The song is joined by some light percussion, and gives it quite a nice catchy little simple sound.
First Time (I Fell In Love) ushers us in with some wonderful backing vocalists first. This is another ballad though, and the style is becoming quite predictable and plodding. Yes, Martine can handle the vocals with ease, showing off a few times, it just nauseatingly isn’t treading any new ground.
The second half of third single’s double A side Love Me is next. This is a cover of the Bee Gees 1976 track, and thankfully it retains some of the original feel to it – and even gives some musical nods to the disco origins that it was born into. Taking the song up a notch would help to make it more appealing. Still, along with Talking In Your Sleep, it gave her a #6 hit.
If Only is next, and gives us another tender piano ballad. The orchestra does join in, which does make it a little bit interesting, but it is mostly more of the same from earlier.
Tremble is the album’s penultimate track, and it’s also the longest track here (at just over 5 minutes). The song starts off all mysterious, with synth strings underscoring Martine’s vocals. By 1 minute in, we’re into a mid-tempo schmaltz. The mysteriousness of the song does at least give it some interest, but otherwise it’s not particularly memorable.
The album closes with Maybe This Time, and yes, there’s a reason that this sounds like a stage show song, and that’s because it’s a cover of Liza Minelli’s hit from Cabaret. It’s clear that Martine is revelling in this and having a great time. Her vocals suit it perfectly, even if the song is really not something I enjoy.
Over all, this album has issues.
Yes, Martine McCutcheon’s vocals are magnificent and she is clearly very competent and confident with her voice, but most of the songs here are generic ballad meets almost-stage show saccharine songs. This becomes tiring, bland, and nauseating, and feels like nothing more than yet another Pop Idol/X Factor winner album, or one really long track.
There are some lighter and more interesting moments though, with Secret Garden and Rainy Days being the high points. Talking In Your Sleep and I’ve Got You are the low points, despite being UK chart hits, along with Maybe This Time.
A bit more of a beat would have been better, avoiding a ballad overdose, which thankfully she tried in her next album.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1999 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #2
- POP RESCUE COST: 50p from a Salvation Army store.