Britain is a country packed full of musical talent, and luckily enough for us, that includes the supreme talent that is James Morrison. As rumour would have it, his distinctive voice is due to a severe bout of whooping cough when he was younger. This he combines with an irresistible soft/rock/blues fusion, which has seen him gain many high chart positions, and win a Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist. I have long been a fan, and after watching some of his V Festival Set on TV, I thought it was about time I dug out his album for review.
Simplicity can often be the key to producing something beautiful in music, and this is certainly the case with James Morrison. As an accomplished guitarist, I wasn’t surprised to find this element of his sound had a lot of charm. The guitar has been layered with some well arranged piano, strings, and in some cases brass, to produce a swirling, atmospheric burst of music that’s very easy to listen to.
Some of his songs seem to have a slight air of yesteryear about them, like ‘The Only Night’ and ‘Nothing Ever Hurt Like You’. Both of these tracks are quite funky, and put me in mind of The Commitments era of soul. Then there’s ‘Save Yourself’, which is quite spiritual, though for me doesn’t really have enough of an impact in the chorus. Towards the end of the album the tempo slows down, and the instrumentation is more guitar based. There’s ‘If You Don’t Want To Love Me’, a country/rock style ballad that’s full of sentiment, which is swiftly followed by the bittersweet ‘Dream On Hayley’. Overall a good mix of lyrics, emotions, and tempos, though for me, the hightlights of this album, are perhaps unsurprisingly the singles. I really enjoyed ‘You Don’t Stop The Rain’, with it’s superb backing vocal harmonies, and the ambient, slightly electro ‘Broken Strings’. This is just how a duet should be, a powerful/complementary vocal fusion, catchy hooks, and lyrics to sing-along to. I’d quite happily put this song on repeat, though I don’t really need to as it’s still a popular radio hit!
Although it would be impossible to recreate the magic of ‘Broken Strings’ or one of his previous hits ‘You Give Me Something’ in every song James Morrison writes, I do think maybe some of the slower tracks are a little samey. They could have more of an impact, and grouped altogether on the album, get a little lost. That would be my only critique really, as there’s still some definite high points on the album, and it’s certainly an enjoyable CD to listen to. The question now is, what will James Morrison do next? I look forward to finding out. In the meantime, this CD is of course still available if you haven’t already got a copy, and there’s plenty of news and updates on www.jamesmorrison.com.