James Morrison - Songs for You, Truths for Me (Polydor)

Chris Miller | Wednesday, 15 October 2008

James Morrison - Songs for You, Truths for Me (Polydor)

The second album is a great test for an artist. Some twist, most stick, but Morrison stays firmly in the crowd with Songs for You, Truths for Me.

If you wish for modern soul, progressive guitar riffs and a piano backbeat, then you won’t be disappointed. ‘Please Don’t Stop the Rain’ probably epitomises this formula more than most. Thoughtful lyrics, of course, aren’t really applicable here: "This is gonna be a rainy day/There’s nothing we can do to make it change/we can pray for sunny weather."

Obviously Morrison penned this before this summer’s festivities, but it is an enjoyable, if rather unspectacular, effort.
Morrison's duet with Nelly Furtado, ‘Broken Strings’, is a strong track and could well lead to chart success. Showing Furtado’s long since abandoned soulful side, some might say Morrison takes her back to her roots on this emotive number. It is, however, ‘Nothing Ever Hurt Like You’ that steals the show. Featuring an almost Motown-inspired old-school funky beat, Morrison’s heartfelt vocals compliment the flow of the music. Clearly James has invested more in production this time around, and it's paid off.

‘Precious Love’, probably inspired by Morrison’s own long-term relationship, features another retro-style lesson with classic choir-like backing vocals, big band production and his own brand of heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics. It’s catchy and very hummable - a feature of many of his most popular numbers.

‘Fix the World Up for You’ tends to follow in this format, and Morrison does seem to have moved into a different production direction, if not artistic genre.

It’s all very feel-good soul which connects, if not exactly knocking you out of your chair. But that is what we’ve come to expect from him. ‘The Only Night’ and ‘Save Yourself’ have most of the aforementioned characteristics and therefore work as better songs on the album but don't stand out.
‘You Make it Real’ sounds more like déjà vu than anything fresh, it’s one of those songs that you hear and are pretty sure you’ve heard it all before; 'This Boy' from Morrison's debut album, Undiscovered, bears a striking resemblance. As a result it sounds as if it doesn’t really belong on this collection.

As an album, it’s classic Morrison and his fans won’t be disappointed. It may be a blow for progression, but it's a triumph for Radio 2 and lovers of  easy-listening. 

Rating: 3/5