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Pop - Released October 28, 2013 | Syco Music

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Susan Boyle devoted 2013 to Christmas projects, including a starring role in the Christmas Candle film, so it's no great surprise that she delivered a seasonal record with Home for Christmas; that was the design from the beginning. Boyle had delivered a Christmas album before -- her 2010 sophomore set Gift was a holiday album -- but Home for Christmas doesn't bother with such niceties as elusive titles or songs that are barely seasonal (Gift contained covers of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Finn, none of whom have written a Christmas tune). This is a straight-up Christmas album, anchored by "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," the kinds of standards that are song often, sometimes reinterpreted, but, in Boyle's hands, are sung precisely how you'd expect: gentle and exact, without a note out of place. Anybody who has followed the reality show contestant from the start of her career will not be surprised, nor will they be dissatisfied: she delivers the goods without fuss or flair, and the concentration on holiday tunes does make this a stronger Christmas album than its predecessor, as there is never a moment when it strays from its cheerful, comforting, seasonal aesthetic. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released December 6, 2013 | Syco Music

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TEN

Pop - Released May 31, 2019 | Syco Music

This compilation -- the first-ever released by the singer -- is called Ten because it arrives on the tenth anniversary of Susan Boyle's sudden transformation from unknown to international superstar thanks to her appearance on Britain's Got Talent. Ten chronicles her decade's worth of recordings, featuring four new songs along with 13 staples from her catalog. Most of her U.K. hits are here, all presented in chronological order: "Wild Horses," "I Dreamed a Dream," and "Perfect Day," with the Geraldine McQueen duet "I Know Him So Well" and seasonal "O Come, All Ye Faithful" (an electronic posthumous duet with Elvis Presley) both reasonably MIA. Of the four new songs, the Michael Ball duet "A Million Dreams" and stately reworking of the Proclaimers' "500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be)" are highlights, but the real noteworthy thing about Ten is how it illustrates that Susan Boyle has stayed firmly in her middlebrow wheelhouse for a good decade and shows no indication of switching it up any time soon. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 4, 2016 | Syco Music

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The seventh studio long-player from the Britain's Got Talent breakout star, Wonderful World finds Susan Boyle delivering another heartfelt and era-spanning set of pop covers, which, if the astronomical success of her 2009 debut and the five like-minded collections that followed are any indication, is exactly what her audience is expecting to hear. Book-ended by a pair of life-affirming standards in the Bob Thiele-and-George David Weiss-penned title track and the Disney teardrop barometer "When You Wish Upon a Star" -- both are effective metaphors for Boyle's rags to riches story -- Wonderful World mostly sticks to the formula. Boyle brings warmth and stoic, flushed-faced patriotism to Sir Paul McCartney's pipe-and-drums-adorned "Mull of Kintyre," her Scottish brogue, so often tempered by the fussy refinements of vocal pop, breaks free from its shackles a bit here. Less effective is a technically superb, but rather airless reading of An American Tale's "Somewhere Out There," with Boyle and Michael Bolton giving it their best Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, but failing to ignite any fireworks. However, a fun, slow-burn, gospel-goth take on Madonna's "Like a Prayer" helps to break up the formula a bit, providing some nice contrast to the ten-track set's more pedestrian moments, and Boyle's country earnestness helps to elevate the inherent cheekiness of her virtual duet with Nat King Cole on "When I Fall in Love." Ultimately, what makes Wonderful World compelling is not the material or the arrangements, it's Boyle herself. What began as a reality TV lark has turned into an impressive -- and lucrative -- seven-year run, and with so many pop classics still out there to plunder, it would seem that Boyle has plenty of grist for the mill. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Pop - Released October 20, 2014 | Syco Music

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Officially, Hope -- Susan Boyle's sixth album since 2009, every record appearing in time for the holiday season like clockwork -- is her first non-thematic album since 2011's Someone to Watch Over Me, but in broad terms every one of Boyle's records feels the same and this 2014 set is no exception. Relying heavily on the pop standards of the '60s and early '70s with the comparatively recent cover of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" offered as spice, Hope is cut from the same cloth as its predecessors: it's nothing but songs that have been handed down through the generations via variety shows, all arranged not to offend. This has been Boyle's modus operandi since I Dreamed a Dream but Hope, like Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage and Home for Christmas, benefits from the absence of her original producer Steve Mac, who gave her original album a chilly somnolence. Hope still is in danger of dragging due to its stateliness but the surroundings are warmer, which is not only a better fit for Boyle's voice but also means the record comes closer to providing a comforting bath of familiarity. By design, there are no surprises in either the songs or arrangements on Hope, but the execution is precise and professional and Boyle and her fans both benefit from this shift in tone. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released November 12, 2012 | Syco Music UK

If at first glance you don't quite realize Susan Boyle's fourth album, Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage, has a concept, it could be due to how Boyle so often draws from the songbook of the Great White Way. Here, she tackles songs from many different eras of Broadway, stretching all the way back to Harold Arlen's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and going all the way up to "This Is the Moment" from 1997's Jekyll & Hyde. Along the way, ABBA's "The Winner Takes it All" gets grandfathered in due to its inclusion on Mama Mia, Donny Osmond appears not once but twice, Michael Crawford -- the Phantom himself -- comes in to duet on "The Music of the Night," one of three Andrew Lloyd-Webber songs here. The style of music may be familiar for Boyle, but the sound is slightly different, thanks in part to the singer switching from her longtime producer Steve Mac to Richard "Biff" Stannard, an X-Factor producer who retains Boyle's stateliness while dialing back on the somnolence. Which isn't to say Standing Ovation is a rollicking little party album -- far from it. Boyle never strays from her show-stopping-ballad wheelhouse, but the combination of a producer with a lighter touch and a focused concept help make Standing Ovation her easiest album to enjoy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 23, 2009 | Syco Music UK

There’s no question that Susan Boyle’s story is inspiring, but the same adjective can’t quite apply to her debut, I Dreamed a Dream. This is almost a willful antonym of “inspiring” -- it is not stirring, rousing, or stimulating, it is sleepy, reserved, and placid, but is that a surprise? Boyle’s grand unveiling on Britain’s Got Talent was with a song from Les Miserables -- the very song that lends this album its title -- and if she could become an international sensation based on a show tune standard, there’s no reason for her to change her approach on her debut, since that’s the sound that made her a star. Plus, a large part of Boyle’s appeal is that she’s a middleaged woman singing middlebrow material, recalling a bygone era when there were singers that appealed to an adult audience by offering soft, stately versions of pop hits and standards. That time was the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and apart from a rather faithful version of Madonna’s “You’ll See,” I Dreamed a Dream could very well have been released all those years ago, as it mixes up the show tunes, gospel, and Christmas carols with covers of Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” and a version of “Daydream Believer” that is easily the most lugubrious on record. Boyle never digs into the intent of the lyrics, but she sings beautifully throughout, delivering more of the same of what she did in her moment in the sun on television. And, frankly, that’s all she needs to do: those won over by Boyle, either her voice or story, will surely be satisfied, and those expecting more were never likely to listen to I Dreamed a Dream in the first place. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 5, 2010 | Syco Music UK

If ever there was an ideal candidate for a holiday album it’s Susan Boyle, the reality TV show contestant who caused a sensation with her pretty, old-fashioned performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” in 2009. If ever there was a genre that calls for old-fashioned prettiness it’s the holiday album, a genre that cares not for the whims of fashion, a genre where predictability is cherished. For the most part, The Gift is indeed predictable in its sound -- a continuation of the glassy, stately march of I Dreamed a Dream -- and songs, relying on carols, not secular seasonal tunes. Well, that’s not entirely true. There is a very, very large exception to that rule and that is the inclusion of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and Neil Finn’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” These three modern standards are given the same somnolent treatment as the rest of the record and popped right into the thick of The Gift without explanation. Presumably, they exist in order to call attention to the album, to give Boyle a single that could be played on radio outside of the holiday season, yet it’s exceedingly odd to have The Gift dotted with tunes that by no stretch of the imagination could be called Christmas carols. Of course, since they sound as stuffy as the rest of the record, they don’t necessarily stand out; they merely meld into the wash of pianos, strings, and choirs that provide an appropriately tasteful aural wallpaper to any holiday occasion you may choose. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released October 31, 2011 | Syco Music UK

Susan Boyle’s third album, Someone to Watch Over Me, isn’t markedly different than her first or her second, the seasonal The Gift, for that matter. All three were produced by Steve Mac -- the man who helmed record-shattering LPs by Il Divo along with a bevy of hits by British pop groups and graduates of the Idol franchises on both sides of the Atlantic -- all three are so stately they border on somnolent, the speeds never once flirting with midtempo, the tenor of the timbre measured and mannered. Close listening reveals Someone to Watch Over Me isn’t quite as orchestral heavy as The Gift, lending this a slight airiness, but this is cut from the same cloth as its predecessors: show tunes and standards rest comfortably next to reinterpreted modern classics, this time Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” and Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” Boyle isn’t an interpreter, necessarily, finding new meanings of songs; instead, the songs are pitched toward her specific skills, so there’s an inevitable sameness to her albums, as they all consist of slow, pretty versions of songs you know by heart. It may not be a formula to convert the skeptics, but it is sure to please the devoted. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine