x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Songs for You, Truths for Me, James Morrison

Everything about this is deeply unpromising.

Chris Martin-in-waiting?... James Morrison.
Chris Martin-in-waiting?... James Morrison.

Everything about this album - from the title, to the covershot of the Chris Martin-lookalike Morrison brooding on a kerb, to the song titles (Fix Up the World for You, Once, When I Was Little) - is deeply unpromising. It suggests music that is earnest, sensitive and more than a bit dull. So it comes as a relief when the first song, The Only Night, turns out to be an up-tempo number with a bouncy piano backing track and lyrics that suggest an aversion to navel gazing ("If this is where we ended up then I refuse to be so hard on myself this time"). Sadly this early hope doesn't last, and songs like Broken Strings and Precious Love are even worse than expected, straying into mind-numbing boy-band blandness. The final two songs are slightly more interesting, although the best that can be said about Dream on Hayley is that the first few bars of the intro sounds a little like early Radiohead-lite. The last track, Love Is Hard, turns out to be exactly the kind of song the album cover promised, an earnest, tortured meditation on the pain of love (it's worth it in the end, is Morrison's shocking conclusion). It says something about how low the rest of the album makes expectations sink that it sounds like a highlight.