The fact that the tag ‘neo-soul’ might conceivably bring shoulder-padded eighties buffoon Luther Vandross to mind seems to have escaped marketing types who are selling Aussie vocalist (and Mark Ronson protégé) Daniel Merriweather as the second coming of Motown and Stax all rolled into one for the twenty-first century. Obviously when I say ‘Daniel Merriweather’ I’m including Ronseal as well – I mean – he must have produced this – the Ikea breakbeats and the conviction that because he’s managed to persuade the Dap Kings to play brass on it, it therefore sounds like the retro funky soul they do with Sharon Jones – have got his stamp all over them. It’s not just marketing types though – the mainstream press are full of it too! Time Out is running with the frankly unconvincing claim that this is, “fundamentally R&B…with the stripped down approach of Rick Rubin or Steve Albini,” while the Daily Torygraph is collapsing under the weight of lazy hyperbolic soundbites like “Dion crossed with Otis Redding.” Anyway, onwards – and since everyone’s been ‘bumming’ Byron Crawford lately (even The Guardian) – it is he who furnishes us with today’s guest review style – so here goes – is Daniel Merriweather worth your green? Let’s find out…
FOR YOUR MONEY
Merriweather is tragically afflicted with a voice that sounds like it’s been digitally filtered to buggery. It hasn’t really been, it just sounds like it. This on the other hand sounds like something off Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book LP – I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) to be precise. If Stevie’s voice was filtered to buggery.
This one’s not bad actually…
…neither’s this. Nice melody and rapper Wale phones in a rhyme. I sing along to this one when it’s on.
There’re still two signed 12” of this available (when some lazy fucker emails me the answer to the question I set on it) – Congratulations to Osman and Mosab who both sent a right answer in.
Steals (or replays, I can’t decide) the mental Hammond riff off The Mohawks Beat Me Til I’m Blue which ought to be great but the jury’s still out on the song it’s paired with.
A slow one. Good pop song. The missus will be asking for this one at parties. If she can remember who sang it and what it’s called.
Another slow one. Teh guey. Could have been written for Robbie Williams.
Starts off like a pastiche of the Pet Sounds’ era Beach Boys but manages to transform into The Mamas & The Papas’ California Dreaming for the chorus. Which The Beach Boys covered, incidentally.
Luther Vandross with a breakbeat.
WATER & A FLAME
In which Merriweather is joined by fellow ‘neo-soul’ chancer Adele for the lamest track of all. It’s another slow one.
GIVING EVERYTHING AWAY FOR FREE
Starts off like Jack Johnson then soars into a song I heard the actor playing Adrian Mole sing in a musical of Adrian Mole when I was a kid. Like anyone knows who Adrian Mole is now anyway.
NOT GIVING UP
Northern soul-y filler as we’re getting near the end – something seemingly captured in the title.
LIVE BY NIGHT
Bland neo-Stevie filler as we’re only one song from the end now.
We’re at the end – how can we fill that space? How about about an ironic positioning (no homo) of the same track that has already appeared on Mark Ronson’s Version album. That time around it was Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather. Ronson gracefully declines a mention here. Probably embarrassed at the doubling up. Nullus.
If this album could think, it would rate itself as a rival to a Gnarls Barkley LP. Unfortunately Daniel Merriweather is not Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson is no Dangermouse. The horns, breakbeats and largely second hand melodies wouldn’t fool anyone except (happily for Merriweather) – those who will buy it if it gets enough exposure (no homo), i.e. those who buy Robbie Williams and Adele stuff.
Out 1 June on Allido/ Columbia