Matt Cardle's initial appeal was that he was the anti-X Factor winner. He was the show's first serious contender who had been a struggling musician for years, who wrote his own songs and, most importantly, could actually play the guitar.
Ten months on, and the fickle world of show business has been anything but kind to him. Granted, he's done himself few favours by painstakingly professing his credibility and attempting to distance himself from the platform that allowed him to make his major label debut - even admitting to feeling "uninspired" post-X Factor tour - but does Letters manage to hold up against his anti-pop spiel?
Lead single and Gary Barlow-penned 'Run For Your Life' was, in truth, a disappointing start; the production little different from his winner's single and Biffy Clyro rehash 'When We Collide'. Elsewhere, Matt takes the reigns on the lyrics department, putting his years of unsigned experience to good use on 'All For Nothing', 'Pull Me Under' and 'Slowly' - each under the aid of Eg White (Leona Lewis, Adele) and Starsailor's James Walsh.
Where the album falters is in the mushy, MOR soft-rock production slathered over each of the 13 songs. 'Amazing' is a by-numbers power ballad complete with bank-bursting finale, while the strings on 'Stars & Lovers' are laid on so thick that any recognisable qualities once heard in Matt's voice are lost. While we suspect he'd have preferred to put out a full version of the (much better) acoustic deluxe disc, we can't help but feel his outbursts against pop are a misguided attempt at injecting some personality into an otherwise lifeless album.
Tracks to download: 'Pull Me Under', 'Letters', 'Slowly'
If you like this, you'll like: James Morrison, Ed Sheeran
Watch Matt Cardle perform an acoustic version of 'Slowly' below: