Soulful voice is promising
James Morrison is one of the most notable new soul artists of the past decade. His third studio album, The Awakening, is proof of that.
The British singer-songwriter has long drawn inspiration from his lonely and uneasy childhood, and the result is authenticity and genuine emotion when it comes to his vocals and lyrics. Praised for his voice, Morrison goes all out on this album, singing about everything from hope to loss.
The first single, I Won't Let You Go, is minimalism at its best. Stripped down to its essentials, the song relies on Morrison's heartfelt vocals underpinned with just an acoustic guitar. It reminds you of why people fell in love with his music in the first place.
That's not to say, though, that Morrison doesn't experiment. Slave to the Music is funky with R&B influences. The standout track is instant head-bopping, foot-tapping material.
Right By Your Side is in turn deliberately gospel with the support of a sparse choir. But there is a sense he is testing the waters. His approach is tentative and altogether too careful.
Morrison is standing on the cusp of greatness. His voice and music are balm for the soul, but to become a truly great artist, he will need to throw caution to the wind. The musician's strength lies in his husky vocals, the like of which you won't find on popular charts these days. The Awakening hints at greater things to come.