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Saturday, 08 March 2014
Alain Clark - Live It Out (Warners)
If the sound of James Morrison or his like brings you into a rash, then look away now. Alain Clark has a sound so familiar you'll feel you've known him all your life, or at least the songs he sings. His debut UK single, 'Father And Friend', has been lapped up by Radio 2 as eagerly as Jonathan Ross pounces on a sexual innuendo.
In his native Holland the soul singer and writer is a megastar, picking up awards and capable of filling large arenas. In the UK, people think you're talking about the late Tory MP, but can't say his name properly. That may change with the amount of exposure Clark receives, with an appearance already on the Paul O'Grady Show. And that underlines the target audience that is in his sights.
'Father And Friend' is a duet with his dad and is so sickly, it almost drips out of the speakers like treacle. But it seems to work, as the two voices blend very well. And if you ignore the lyrical syrup, the tune's pretty good, too. It's so good, on the UK version of this album, you get it twice!
This, though, is by a distance the most interesting track on this album. Elsewhere, it is littered with three minute Motown influenced tunes that pass you by, making little or no impression; "No sight of improving, we're like a song that just ain't grooving," Clark sings on 'This Ain't Gonna Work', displaying an impressive knowledge of poor English for a Dutchman. That's probably one of the most profound statements here, with one lightweight relationship reference after another.
Clark talks of Motown being his biggest influence, but there's more to that than soft drums, a brass section and girls singing backing vocals. 'Hold On' is the most typical song-by-numbers example here, where all the former ingredients are employed. But Clark's vocal just isn't engaging enough. There are better singers with better songs (Paul Carrack to name one).
'She's The One' and 'Fell In Love' are the album's ballads, where things are slowed to a more gentle groove with acoustic guitar. But these end up being little more than average. 'Live It Out' sees the Alain getting slightly more excited and is likely to be another single, but the over-polished production squeezes the life out of the soul.
Ultimately, you end up wondering whether the Netherlands has been under a Taliban-style leadership for centuries, and this is the first taste of music they've had. If this is award-winning then Craig David might, at last, be in for a shot at the big time!
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Alain Clark - Live It Out (Warners)
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Alain Clark's official site
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10/04/2009 at 12:31
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