Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Matt Cardle - Letters [Album Previews]
As is the norm for X Factor winners these days, Matt Cardle has wisely taken a year out to record his debut album, and now we have our first taste of what it all sounds like, courtesy of iTunes.
Part of me had been previously inclined to think that album would be a lot rockier than Matt's 'taster' winner's single When We Collide, but the truth is that everything else on the record fits neatly alongside it.
The closest comparison is of course Take That - after all, Matt worked with TT head-honcho Gary Barlow himself on Run For Your Life. It's solid, dependable pop - track after track. And while it may be a little more earnest and weighty than previous X Factor branded material, it still falls chiefly into the category of glossed up Christmassy ballads.
What it sounds like Matt has tried to do here is - track by track - reference as many of his contemporaries as possible: Stereophonics (All For Nothing), Keane (Stars & Lovers), James Blunt (Amazing), James Morrison (Faithless) - Matt turns his hand to turning out his best impressions of all of them. The emphasis seems forever on the creation of a 'big' sound, tear-jerking ballads that allow Matt to put across that grittier side of his voice that served to make him a favourite on the show last year.
Of course, the danger is that so much of the album sounds too similar. Put through the filter or Matt himself, all those influences and contemporaries merge into one anonymous wedge of sound. The album might be consistent, but it also falls prey of having too few standout moments.
That's not to say it has none though - Starlight makes for a strong opening to the album, a kind of Rule The World style bit of epic emotion-tugging pop. Surely a future single.
Beat of a Breaking Heart is the only true highlight though, and also the only genuinely individual moment on the album. Here, Matt finally sounds like he's doing his own thing. It's a gorgeous, minimalist ballad - orchestral strings swelling to a cinematic crescendo.
More like this in the future please Matt!
Letters is available to pre-order on iTunes now.