REVIEW: James Arthur Makes A Stomping Departure From X Factor Days With Debut Album

The X Factor has seen 10 years of talent come and go but 2012 saw the most unique act take the winner’s crown. James Arthur had a slight sob story but his vocal ability is what won him the competition (and possibly his rendition of ‘Let’s Get It On).’

With X Factor’s input it’s hard not to be worried that even the best acts will come out with completely over-produced manufactured rubbish. However a year later James Arthur is back with his self titled debut album and we can assure you it won’t disappoint.

James Arthur’s self-titled album is out now (Packshot)

You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You

His second single which stormed to number two in the UK charts was the first insight to what his album could be. It’s safe to say a lot of people were impressed, something a little different to hit the pop music industry with a great video to match. However we have to admit there isn’t enough shots of James in the video…

Get Down

This track could see a possible influence from his buddy and runner up from last year, Jahmene Douglas, as there is a large amount of gospel sounds, including a full choir at the end. There is a fantastic build to the big chorus and his vocals are just amazing.

New Tattoo

We all know James is a tattoo fan so it’s no surprise there is a song about the art. “I wear it like a new tattoo, and I’ll be so happy that I’m stuck with you” is one of many topical tattoo lyrics that work really well. With a minimal backing track you can hear James has a raspier/rockier edge on his vocal.

Impossible

The Shontelle cover that became the winner’s single of X Factor 2012 sold over one million copies in the UK. It was very clear that this wouldn’t be James Arthur’s chosen avenue of music, but nonetheless it’s the song that took him straight to number one and into the hearts of the nation.

Lie Down

There is a fun sound of some funky slap bass as well as some samples of brass instruments throughout the song so we hope he has some good moves to go with this one! ‘Lie Down’ has definitely got potential to make the girls swoon as it is a particularly seductive song. He sings of lacking commitment and wanting to take a girl home, living up to the ladies man image that has been created around him.

Recovery

The deepest and most emotive song on the record comes in the form of ‘Recovery’ as you can really hear the struggle in his voice. People often talk about artists ‘connecting with a song’ and this is something James Arthur does without question. You can feel the raw emotion as he sings about being a solider at war and what we can only imagine was his life before he pursued his dream. Strong stuff!

Roses featuring Emeli Sande

An acoustic song that is really stripped back to show how perfect these two voices are together. His vocal is husky, deep and soulful and hers is delicate and angelic. The sounds are complete opposites that merge together with violins to make a spin tingling romantic song.

Supposed

Whilst singing to a good upbeat tempo James talks about regret in a previous relationship, he sounds angry at himself for being too late in love. Again, he sounds so full of passion you can really hear every emotion; it’s becoming clear that this boy has a lot of heart.

Suicide

At first glance the title may make you assume this may get a little too deep but it’s actually a vocal showcase of James and what he can do. He hits big, high and long notes throughout the (sort of) ballad and talks of how he is guilty of over loving someone. The more he sings the more you hear a passion that a lot of artists are lacking, it all seems real.

Is This Love?

Here comes the rockier sound that we all expected, he’s letting go of demands and it can’t be reiterated enough that this guys vocal ability is amazing. You can imagine the music video for this one, something over dramatic like Green Day’s ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ For example boy meets girl, boy moves away, girl cries, they reunite and live happily ever after. However this concept would lack James Arthur again so that’s not something we can condone.

Certain Things featuring Chasing Grace

Chasing Grace are an up and coming singer/song writing duo who add the majestic vocals to ‘Certain Things’ which makes it such a chilled out song. There is a mystical feeling throughout the track which is really relaxing so hopefully this will put Chasing Grace on more people’s iPods!

Smoke Clouds

Here comes a really soulful track where James tries his hand at a rap, well more of a rhythmic talk which was at risk of being embarrassing but actually works really well. He’s got rhythm in his voice and his soul oozes through everything he does so it was a welcomed addition to the track. Can he pretty much do anything he tries his hand at? Probably.

Flyin’

A short but sweet ending to the record sees just a one minute song that shares a positive outlook on his live and where it has gone. ‘Flyin’ could be closely compared to Plan B’s Strickland Banks record, soul meets rap. A challenging mix of genres that seems effortless for James Arthur. He says he used to think he couldn’t soar but ‘Look at me I’m flying now’ – Yes you are!

Our Verdict

X Factor has seen some right shockers in its time but James is definitely breaking the mould for reality television success. His ability to stretch his vocal over several different genres is amazing and his vocal in general is so smooth and at times seductive.

People will automatically turn their noses up at people who have secured a record deal from a TV show but this shouldn’t be the case for James. For a debut album he has explored his talents and tried news things, he should be admired for his efforts and deserves a bright future.

James Arthur Performs At London’s G-A-Y

James Arthur sends the crowd wild at London’s G-A-Y, December 15 (Photos: WENN)