Album Review: James Arthur - James Arthur

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The X Factor: murdering music since 2004. James Arthur's self-titled début album is the debris of his winning success on the world's trashiest TV show. Arthur himself has been one of the first to admit that the winners contract doesn't always work in your favour, stating that working with multiple producers on the album has fucked up his creativity. James' decision to sell his artistic soul over to the corporate puppeteers came after his deflating struggle as a member of various unsigned bands. 


The album opens with the predictable and unbearably over-played pop single 'You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Loves You', which encompasses the stench of an artist working to make a big money hit. This song has been manufactured, not created. And yes, there's a difference. Despite the song's arrangement as a number one pop piece, it peaked at number two in the UK charts and failed to shift as many sales as expected. Arthur described his lead single as a "big, uplifting anthem" before quickly stating that the rest of the album is quite diverse. Interesting. 


Paying unapologetic regards to my stubborn ears, tracks two and three are failing to ignite anything other than cheese on a grill. Arthur's vocals are undeniably the saving grace on this heavily produced blockbuster of an album and as you skip past a couple more irritating pop blasts you begin to find yourself lost in shameful indulgence. It's evident with 'Recovery' that James has been granted creative control for the second half of his début. The collaboration with Emeli Sande on 'Roses' is a memorable highlight as the singer's softer tone does well to compliment Arthur's raspy voice. 


It's impossible to remain unconnected from the eighth track on the album. 'Supposed' is a deep and emotive personal account of the pain and regret that Arthur is living with following an old relationship. Yet again this track is too heavy in production and the tempo is far too upbeat; head to Arthur's YouTube channel to hear a stripped back version of this track and you shall appreciate the difference between raw talent and commercial involvement. 


Credibility as an artist isn't earned through performing live on prime time TV until you are crowned the winner of a contest. But this guy understands that. James Arthur's début was always going to be tarnished with the same brush as every other piece of talented meat to emerge from the X Factor stratosphere. With that being said, fragments of this first album uncover an artist with an honest approach to growth and a fresh willingness to open deep wounds in the name of real music.  

Hayley Thompson

Music and writing make me happy, so I write about music.


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