Release Date: Oct 11, 2011
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock
The Jane’s Addiction of the ‘90s is gone. The entire band would probably like to toss me a good kick in the dick for opening with a statement that's been splashed in every review from the UK to the U.S. But, it's true and is evident upon just a peek (let alone full listen to) their newest effort, The Great Escape Artist. The group has been around for twenty-five plus years, and this is their fourth albu--wait… FOURTH album? Yeah.
James Morrison drizzles his velvety-as-butter voice all over each of the 12 songs on The Awakening, his most recent foray into contemporary soul, where the balance between the cheerful and the cheesy works more often than not. The record does come off lovably enough as a cautious celebration of life and love, never sounding dishonest, and, while most of the criticism can be lobbed at the too-polished production, there is great charm to be found in Morrison’s optimistic delivery. The smooth sounds of Motown that Morrison adores (and tries to homage) are laced throughout the album, veering from obligatory soulful dance numbers (“Slave To The Music”) to heartfelt, hotel lobby evening ballads (“In My Dreams”).
Bar the success of his 2008 single "Broken Strings", - featuring Nelly Furtado but, crucially, covered by Girls Aloud - James Morrison has made his way fairly unobtrusively into the singer-songwriter major league. The Awakening consolidates that position in equally unspectacular fashion: a collaboration with Jessie J ("Up") makes another shaky bid at cross-generational appeal, but after that he settles into an unappealing groove of tepid soul ("Beautiful Life") and supermarket funk ("Slave to the Music"). Strings and expensive-sounding gloss are applied by producer Bernard Butler but unfortunately it's Duffy-era Butler, rather than the sweeping soul of his mid-90s David McAlmont collaborations.
Album number three from the British singer, and a truly great set still eludes him. Mike Diver 2011 Released three years to the day after his previous LP, the chart-topping (in Ireland, at least) Songs for You, Truths for Me, The Awakening returns James Morrison to the business of bothering the middle-of-the-road with his Rod Stewart-meets-Ben Ottewell tones. There are countless worse noises in pop – but there’s nothing in his voice, fine though it is, that conveys the emotional weight he should perhaps be carrying after such childhood hardship (school-days loneliness, and he nearly died as an infant).