The last few days saw the release of Conchita Wurst’s second album, “From Vienna with Love.” Everything from award-winning songs and concerts to political engagements and LGBTIQ+ activism, the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner’s flame is yet to dwindle since she rose like a phoenix in Copenhagen. When the Austrian released her debut album in 2015, the theme is what I would call anthemic optimism. The sound? Let’s call it ‘considered pop’ which included a range of dance floor pleasers, power ballads and even swing. It is not lost on me that an artist that has come through Eurovision circles developed a sound that is purposefully far-reaching, with influences from across the European continent. The new album is a change of direction. Conchita has teamed up with the world famous Wiener Symphoniker to work on the project. The collaboration came about when they performed together at the Wiener Festwochen in 2017 and were inspired by that success. “From Vienna with Love” is a covers album. But this is no generic covers album. The song selection has been seemingly chosen to represent both the sensibilities of Conchita and the nature of orchestration. The album kicks off with “Writing’s on the Wall” and another of Conchita’s Bond Theme calling cards that will once again get the fans asking if it could really happen one day. We hear Conchita’s rendition of musical classic “The Sound of Music“, a reprisal of her performance from the Life Ball back in June. Interestingly, there are two covers of 90’s chart hits with Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” and Oleta Adams’ “Get Here“. Disney fans will be excited to hear “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, although with lyrics such as “You think the only people who are people / Are the people who look and think like you”, it’s clear the song resonates with Conchita far beyond the music. Conchita has taken inspiration from two big divas with “Moonraker” (original by Shirley Bassey) and “All by Myself” (sung by Celine Dion, by way of Eric Carmen). And of course, we cannot forget a new extended recording of “Rise Like a Phoenix” in which we are reminded of the majesty of Conchita’s anthem. This is a vocal masterclass. If the eponymous first album drew from the sounds of Europe, then the second plants the Austrian’s feet firmly back home in Vienna. Classical musicians are always keen to reach a wider, younger audience, and Conchita’s sound is maturing as she does. The union is a harmonious one. There is a kind of poetry in the fusion of these two worlds, something Conchita has built a career on doing. Whether it’s gender-blending or bringing together political or cultural opposition, she understands the richness of two seemingly disparate parties engaging.
- Get Here – The 1990 hit by Oleta Adams. What a song! Conchita delivers heart-breaking vulnerability.
- Uninvited – The orchestral version of the well-covered pop classic is more faithful to the original by Alanis Morissette. The haunting vocals shifts Conchita into a realm of fantasy – a side of her seldom seen.