Andy Abraham

Even If

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Having been dropped from Sony BMG following the disappointing sales of his 2006 sophomore album, Soul Man, bin man turned pop star Andy Abraham now faces the daunting task of getting his career back on track without the weight of the huge X Factor publicity machine behind him. Hooking up with established songwriting team Absolute (Spice Girls) for his third effort, Even If, is a promising move, but while its 12 original compositions are an admirable attempt to move away from the karaoke covers of his two major-label albums, they do little to dispel the dated soul balladeer criticisms that he's faced ever since finishing runner-up to Shayne Ward in the second series of the talent contest juggernaut. "You" and "Stay for Life," dedicated to his late mother and adoring wife, respectively, have their hearts in the right place but are drowned in the kind of schmaltz that even Richard Curtis would balk at, "Walk Away" and "Whenever" are lackluster attempts to jump aboard the '60s brass-fused soul bandwagon, and the cheesy backing vocals and watered-down soul-pop of "Don't Think So" and "Only Way to Grow" appear stuck in an early-'90s time warp. Occasionally, the album does justice to Abraham's passionate soulful vocals, which have justifiably been compared to the likes of Luther Vandross and Lionel Richie, as on the 2-step garage leanings of "It's My Life," the bouncy ska-pop of "Lovely Amor," and the authentic disco-funk of the title track, which is nowhere near as disastrous as its joint bottom placing at the Eurovision Song Contest would suggest. But with a stream of younger and more relevant X Factor contestants to contend with, Abraham really had to raise his game more frequently if he were to reverse his decreasing fortunes, something that Even If unfortunately fails to achieve.

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