James Morrison - Undiscovered (2006)

James Morrison
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In Detroit now, the auto industry is pinning its hopes on "crossovers."  Part car, part SUV, this new breed of vehicles that includes the Ford Edge and the Buick Enclave is attracting adult buyers with high profile, sporty looks and the smooth maneuverability of a car.   Similarly, "crossover" is currently the key in the world of adult popular music, as a new generation of artists have followed Norah Jones' balancing act on the adult pop/R&B fence, releasing melodic, extremely accessible pop albums that include enough classic soul and jazz elements to give them gravitas.  And while some who have followed sound a wee bit calculated, there's no denying the growth of this trend, as highlighted at the 2007 Grammy Awards when the Royal Family of Pop/Soul crossover, Corinne Bailey Rae, John Mayer and John Legend, performed one of the evening's most popular and enjoyable sets.

In Detroit now, the auto industry is pinning its hopes on "crossovers."  Part car, part SUV, this new breed of vehicles that includes the Ford Edge and the Buick Enclave is attracting adult buyers with high profile, sporty looks and the smooth maneuverability of a car.   Similarly, "crossover" is currently the key in the world of adult popular music, as a new generation of artists have followed Norah Jones' balancing act on the adult pop/R&B fence, releasing melodic, extremely accessible pop albums that include enough classic soul and jazz elements to give them gravitas.  And while some who have followed sound a wee bit calculated, there's no denying the growth of this trend, as highlighted at the 2007 Grammy Awards when the Royal Family of Pop/Soul crossover, Corinne Bailey Rae, John Mayer and John Legend, performed one of the evening's most popular and enjoyable sets.

So it's no wonder that 21 year old newcomer James Morrison shot right to the top of the UK charts and has made a smaller, but notable, splash in the US with his debut album, Undiscovered.  With more rhythm than Amos Lee and less blues than Mayer, Morrison delivers a baker's dozen well crafted songs with a minimum of electronics and a maximum dose of his raspy Stevie-Wonder-meets-Paul-Young tenor voice.  As New York singer Gavin DeGraw did on a similar 2004 album, Morrison delivers the goods here with such mildly soulful, singable cuts as "The Letter," "The Pieces Don't Fit Anymore" the title cut and the excellent first single, "You Give Me Something."  This disc has been growing internationally for months now, and the secret is that there's no secret.  There's nothing earth-shattering about Undiscovered, but the young Brit clearly knows something that his thirty-something year old counterparts in both pop and urban music worlds seem to have forgotten: A good melody, impassioned singing and an eschewing of electronic pyrotechnics can lead to something both enjoyable and quite durable.  The fact is, Undiscovered will be just as pleasing a couple years from now as it is today.  Can you say that about the latest P Diddy joint?

By Chris Rizik

 

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