A world class performer who has sung with the Rolling Stones as part of their 50th anniversary tour, and on Broadway as a member of the Smash: Bombshell the Musical, ensemble, Mary Gatchell is a talent whose gifts have captivated audiences and listeners for years.
Her new and 7th album, Camino Real, takes the listener on a journey, blending together an array of R&B, heart-breaking ballads and soul music in a way that this reviewer in particular hasn’t heard in a very long time – if ever.
Opening number “You’ve Been On My Mind” has a toe-tapping rhythm but with the instrumentation considerably stripped back, allows Gatchell’s smooth vocal to rightly take centre stage, and it stays there for pretty much the whole album.
“Let’s Stand On Eternity” is more emotive and the power with which Gatchell delivers every line provides evidence, were any needed, of how much she believes in her lyrics. Title track “Camino Real” ups the tempo once more, adding a bit of swing and sway to proceedings; it’s different, and at just over 6 minutes in length, a little long, but for the most part it works pretty well.
There’s also a Spanish/Latin flare to “Casualty Of You”, which is noticeable from the outset, but it’s Gatchell’s vocal delivery which once again makes the song one of many a listener should want to put on repeat, even though it’s a little slow and a tad sombre in places.
The introduction to “Time Goes So Slow”, which is a little long-winded runs the risk of causing some listeners to skip the track altogether, but if they stick with it, they’ll be rewarded with a soulful ballad which is a stand out feature on the album.
Sadly, the album closes with “Don’t Go”, one of the weaker, if not weakest, inclusions on the collection. Although it allows Gatchell to once again demonstrate the emotive side of herself and her music, it comes across as a sad and rather depressing farewell – to this recording at least. Given the many highs the album has showcased already, it’s a little disappointing to see Camino Real end on such a low note.
Header photo credit: Allie Burke.