The closest thing Britain has to a Ryan Tedder, London singer/songwriter Jamie Hartman made his name penning tracks for the likes of Natalie Imbruglia, Will Young, and Joss Stone before stepping out from behind the safety of the recording studio to front his own OneRepublic-style pop/rock band, Ben's Brother. After relocating to the remote national park of L.A.'s Topanga Canyon, he's decided to go it alone, with the first album recorded under his own name, III. Produced by Warren Huart (the Fray), there's little to separate it from the melodic acoustic sound of 2007's Beta Male Fairytales and 2009's Battling Giants, with 12 tracks which float from Snow Patrol-esque indie rock ("Happy New Year") to dreamy lounge pop ("Buddha Allah Jesus Jones") to vintage soul ("One Day When I Am a Memory") without leaving any lasting impression. Indeed, for a man whose track record shows he knows his way around an infectious hook, its 12 tracks are disappointingly bland. The appropriately titled "Heartwarm," the twinkling balladry of "Before I Close My Eyes, inspired by the birth of his daughter, and a collaboration with Israeli-born chanteuse Rosi Golan, "Hard Rain," are all pleasant easy listening fare, while his quivering early Rod Stewart-ish tones remain as charming as ever. But it all sounds slightly calculated, as if it was designed by committee to provide the soundtrack for a heartstring-tugging Sunday night TV drama, and while Radio2 will no doubt lap it up, Hartman unwisely appears to have given away his best songs to other artists.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien