Eg White - Adventure Man (Parlophone)

David Spencer | Sunday, 26 April 2009

Eg White - Adventure Man (Parlophone)

Eg White is a man in demand, having written recent chart-toppers like 'Leave Right Now' for Will Young and 'You Give Me Something' from James Morrison. He's also penned songs with the likes of Craig David, Jamelia, Sam Sparro and Take That. Now he's releasing material of his own - an opportunity, he says, to explore something less commercial.

Originally in boy band Brother Beyond, Eg White left before their chart run, and instead teamed up with Alice Temple to produce the critically acclaimed '24 Years Of Hunger' under the name Eg and Alice. And that's where you perhaps need to visit for a better indication of what you hear on Adventure Man. White calls it a collection that is more sophisticated than the pop songs he now writes, but it's not an easy listen, and for reward you may have to give it a few plays.

'But California' is a romantic apology sung in a pained vocal that starts the album uninvitingly. Its a good indication of what follows. 'Weird Friendless Kid' is so Eels-like, it could a track from Beautiful Freak. Perhaps that's the sort of artist White is aspiring to be?

'Til The End' is one of the rare occasions where there's a hint of the successful songwriter, with a sultry slow groove and gentle bass. 'Pay Later' begins with a Kinks-style chord and a happy tune disguising some cutting lyrics about being basically a bit horrible ("When you've screwed everyone you know").

There's more self pity to be found on 'Broken', the album's best track, where White sings over a reflective piano and string backing. There's a quality here that's unmatched elsewhere, on ultimately a disappointing adventure. But 'Time To Fall' and 'Pull Me Through' offer some pleasure later on, the latter featuring the aforementioned Alice Temple.

Other songwriters have done the same as Eg White, and recorded albums of their own. A close but better cousin to 'Adventure Man' is former Semisonic man Dan Wilson, who's worked with Robbie Williams and Dixie Chicks. His solo album offers a similarly stripped down experience, but has more for the casual listener. The press blurb that comes with this release asks why, with so many singer songwriters out there, should we care about Eg White. It's sadly not a question answered here.

Rating: 2/5