CD Review of Songs for You, Truths for Me by James Morrison
Recommended if you like
Stevie Wonder, Marc Broussard, James Blunt
Label
Interscope/Polydor
James Morrison:
Songs for You, Truths for Me

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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I
f you dug UK sensation James Morrison’s 2006 debut, Undiscovered, you’ll find some things to like about the follow-up, Songs for You, Truths for Me. But as you might also expect, success breeds bigger recording budgets, which can lead to over-production. That’s the case with Morrison’s latest effort, because while the songs are all solid, it sounds like something that’s been put through a musical meat grinder so as to sound like every other soulful pop artist out there. Dude does have one of the purest, strongest voices in modern music, though, and he knows how to put his thoughts on paper and deliver them with emotion. And not all of the production is bad—instead, some of the tracks, with help from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, may remind you of early Stevie Wonder.

Kicking things off is “The Only Night,” which has that Stevie feel and is made for radio, movie placements and big things for Morrison to continue the huge success of Undiscovered. Still, it’s lacking the purity of the songs on his debut. The same can be said about the catchy but too slick “Save Yourself” and R&B-flavored “Please Don’t Stop the Rain.” Perhaps the best track is “Broken Strings,” a stunning duet with Nelly Furtado that somehow makes breaking up seem uplifting. “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” is UK-flavored soul along the lines of “The Commitments.” “Once When I Was Little” will remind you of “You Give Me Something” from the debut, but with much more instrumentation and the employment of more expensive microphones. As you might also expect, two of the real gems on here are buried later on the album, as Morrison makes no bones about the difficulty of his strained relationship with long-time girlfriend Gill on pretty heartfelt numbers “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” and “Love Is Hard.”

James Morrison

There is no doubt James Morrison knows how to use his vocal instrument to belt out his personal feelings, and he sure has a boatload of ability. But at some point, the major labels have got to stop trying to capitalize on every ounce of success with an artist, and stop subjecting projects like this to bigger studios and trying to make the songs all sound the same. Still, Morrison’s talent shines through once again, and that’s really the bottom line.

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