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Music Review

James Morrison: 'Songs For You, Truths For Me'

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James Morrison: 'Songs For You, Truths For Me'
Released on Monday, Sep 29 2008

Of all the over-earnest troubadours to have emerged in recent years, James Morrison is the least offensive. Less smug than Paolo Nutini and nowhere near as punchable as James Blunt, he's blessed with the sort of everyman appeal that's boosted the careers of Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Keane. His ever-so-slightly unkempt hair and dreamy eyes have made him a housewives' favourite, while his rasping larynx and ability to write a romantic, uplifting pop tune kept his debut album, Undiscovered, on permanent rotation on Radio 2 in 2006.

Morrison initially wanted his follow-up to feature "rockier, harder tunes", but that apparently wound up sounding contrived so he returned to what he knows best, penning tracks about "the people who really made him feel". What this boils down to is Undiscovered 2: 12 tracks about the ups and downs of Morrison's love life. There are mellow ballads, meandering soul numbers and a pair of slightly perkier tunes, complete with brass and jaunty piano, that sound almost outlandish in this context.

While there's nothing wrong with sticking to your musical guns, Morrison's lack of ambition here is thoroughly frustrating. He perhaps sums it up best himself on a track called 'Save Yourself', when he sings: "I'm trying to change, to make the best for us, but I'm just the same, same as I ever was." Every song on this album contains a different tale about his presumably tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Gill, but his lyrics are so starved of originality and genuine sentiment that it's often hard to take him seriously.

Occasionally Morrison strikes lucky with a decent tune - opener 'The Only Night' is a pleasingly chipper pop boogie - and his impressive pipes can get him through even the dullest and most lyrically insipid tracks, but this album never comes close to providing a thrill. Not even 'Dream On Hayley', which rehashes the tune from his biggest hit 'You Give Me Something', or a cameo from Nelly Furtado can bring any colour to proceedings.

With a team of established hitmakers including Eg White and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder on board, there's really no excuse for this record to be quite so nauseatingly repetitive or sickly sweet. It's a cruel irony that Morrison's inoffensive nature, the very thing that helped him rack up sales first time around, are what makes his second album such a crushing disappointment.

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