top of page

Whatever Happens Next (Album Review)

Matthew Harvey's new musical cast album, Whatever Happens Next, is a promising piece of writing that boasts impressive vocals and some really moving pieces. When the compositions seek to be individual, there's some strong memorable melodies and while the album as a whole may let itself down through lackluster lyrics and a tendency to stray into the realm of generic contemporary theatre, there's a spark here that leads one to think that with some tweaking, this could be a fantastic piece of work.

At first glance, the album appears to boast nothing out of the ordinary - the all too common orchestration of a rhythm section complimented by a small string section doesn't help in distinguishing this new musical from many of its modern day peers - yet upon closer listening, there's a skill that reaches further than the average musical in a post Pasek and Paul industry. Here's my song by song review!

The Road

The album opens fine enough; The Road is a mildly catchy opening number that has all the hallmarks of the first piece in a musical. It's engaging joviality makes this an easy listen, opening with a liveliness that, while not representative of the album's finest moments, works to create an intriguing sound from the start. Yet sadly, from the beginning begins the detrimental trend of vague lyrical work: from listening to the song alone, one would struggle to understand plot, character or the setting of the show - a concerning takeaway from an introductory song that ought to act as an establishing scene.

As Far As We Can Get

Unfortunately, this trend increases with the second song on the album, as creative writing is replaced with cliche and vaguely semantic phrases that merely hint towards a 'vibe' rather than any explicit emotion. The repetitive nature of the song makes for an incredibly vanilla addition to musical theatre, that unfortunately leaves very little lasting impression on its listener.

Only A Moment

After a somewhat worrying start, Harvey's writing truly comes into its own in Only A Moment, proving that the third time really is the charm. This beautiful piece really shines in an individualistic way, particularly through its strong orchestration that allows for sweeping melodic lines in the strings. Here the music seems to take an interest in telling the story also, with a clear essence country music creating a sense of place and a real identity to the song. Boasting excellent counterpoint melodies and pleasant harmonies, this is a number I'd quite happily add to my musical theatre playlist.

Myles' Song

Sadly, after an absolute hit with Only a Moment, Myles' Song forgets everything that made its predecessor great, returning to vague lyrics that are pointlessly belted. While I have no doubt audiences would go feral over the vocal gymnastics here, the writing feels shallow, concerned more with impressing its audience through sheer overwhelming force over delicately crafted songwriting.

One Two Three

We now reach what you could well see as being the 'catchy promo song'. The titular lyrics become a memorable motif, yet the piece is sadly repetitive and predictable. While this works in its advantage in creating an earworm, its disappointing at the cost of strong lyrics and imaginative musicality.

Only You

Harvey impresses for a second time, however, with Only You, a phenomenally strong ballad that appreciates delicacy, structure, and the art of building to a climax. Once again, fantastic writing for the strings allow this number to soar, complimenting the stunning vocals that service the storytelling of the song without needlessly overshadowing it. This is without a doubt the highlight of the album.

Whatever Happens

Frustratingly, the album loses its touch again with its penultimate song, returning to incredibly vague lyrics that border on the mundane. There is however, a clever sense of minimalism in the composition, that allows space for the lyrics that unfortunately fail to deliver. As the full band becomes utilised later in the piece, there's a greater sense of satisfying emotion that was lacking earlier, yet if the minimalism had been committed to, there could have been potential for something special.

Twist My Words

The album concludes on a largely satisfying note with the beautiful number Twist My Words. While the song sadly descends into overbearing belting, the lyrics are slightly more focused, leaving a more warm impression to the linguistic merits of the work.

Overall, the album has a lot of potential, as shown in its two strongest numbers. This makes it even more so frustrating, however, that they're buried in a sea of forgettable melodies and bland lyrics. It's evident that Matthew Harvey appreciates what makes a good song in musical theatre, and he clearly has both the imagination and the talent to do so, yet a commitment to a more individualistic style may be what this album needs if it is to succeed as a piece of art.

To listen to Matthew Harvey's new album, you can follow the link here.



bottom of page