Elliott Yamin - Elliott Yamin (2007)

Elliott Yamin
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Certainly one of the most likable American Idol alums, Elliott Yamin was quietly also one of the most talented.  He literally appeared to grow from a boy to a man in the 4 months on the show, and by the end of Season 5 was clearly the best pure singer of the bunch.  However, his understated nature made a career beyond Idol no sure thing, and his self-titled debut bowed in the top 5 (no doubt due to his mostly pre-teen Idol fans) only to almost immediately drop out of sight.

Then a funny thing happened.  People started actually hearing the album, and Elliott Yamin experienced a resurgence that took it to gold status and put Yamin in his rightful spot as, along with Chris Daughtry, the Idol Season 5 alum with the brightest future.

Certainly one of the most likable American Idol alums, Elliott Yamin was quietly also one of the most talented.  He literally appeared to grow from a boy to a man in the 4 months on the show, and by the end of Season 5 was clearly the best pure singer of the bunch.  However, his understated nature made a career beyond Idol no sure thing, and his self-titled debut bowed in the top 5 (no doubt due to his mostly pre-teen Idol fans) only to almost immediately drop out of sight.

Then a funny thing happened.  People started actually hearing the album, and Elliott Yamin experienced a resurgence that took it to gold status and put Yamin in his rightful spot as, along with Chris Daughtry, the Idol Season 5 alum with the brightest future.

Fact is, there's nothing magical about the formula for Elliott Yamin.  Producers Josh Abramson and Stargate (Ne-Yo, Beyonce, Rihanna) have put together a package of melodic, hooky pop songs along with crisp (if someone mechanically generic) production, and let Yamin's bright, expressive voice do the rest.  It is a formula that has worked well for decades (most recently during the "boy band" surge of the late 90s), though it sporadically falls out of vogue.  But in the hands of a somewhat raw but talented singer like Yamin, the result is one of the most instantly enjoyable albums of the year.

Yamin deftly handles mildly urban beat of the opening cut, "Movin' On," and brings similar vitality to the radio-friendly "Wait For You" and "One Word."  And his earnestness and desire to please turn even the rather pedestrian ballads such as "You Are the One" and "Take My Breath Away" into solid tracks.  But best of all is the horn-punctuated Memphis sound of "Train Wreck," a great cut where production, singer and material come together -- it could have been a hit 30 years ago and still sounds fresh today.

It could be argued that, due to the clearly strong role that the producers played here, a listener leaves the album Elliott Yamin knowing no more about the personality of the singer than when the disc started, but that would be quibbling.  Yamin will likely reveal more of his musical personality on future discs (he hints at it on his cover of "A Song For You" and his enjoyable co-composition "Find A Way"), but for now he's proven his musical instincts are solid on a welcome debut album that is truly a pleasant surprise.  Highly recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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