If Mike Skinner got the lion's share of attention in 2002, with his own take on U.K. garage and hip-hop/techno derivations via his incarnation as the Streets, then fellow Brit Daniel Bedingfield deserves his own nod as well. That said, their approaches aren't really that parallel -- in place of Skinner's intentionally rough Midlands wide-boy approach, Bedingfield obviously loves recent R&B and chart pop vocals from America and elsewhere, and his closest compatriot might, in fact, be Craig David. Bedingfield's habit of sometimes biting down hard at the end of his lines is a bit unsettling, something which the hints of electronic tweaking bring out further. It's not all that surprising in the era of ProTooled on-focus vocal arrangements, though, and he's got a good air of nervous bravura that readily turns up on tracks like "James Dean (I Wanna Know)" and the fantastic "Friday." The air of desperation in Bedingfield's lyrics and delivery -- often informed by his strongly felt religious beliefs but wisely never pretending to ignore pressures of the flesh and the heart -- suits the sharp, crisp charge of the music to a T in the pop/rock-informed clip of "I Can't Read You" and the wonderfully ominous sass and swing of the Henry Mancini-sampling "Inflate My Ego" (with two instances where the blend is spot on). Meanwhile, there's no question Bedingfield's a great self-producer, handling or co-handling every song but one with poise. The title track is a marvel of bedroom recording translating into brilliant pop -- there are multimillion dollar studio efforts that don't sound so on-point and alive, down to the clipped string sample at the song's end. When it comes to the slower ballads, they work best in sudden moments -- the soaring end to "If You're Not the One" -- or by not denying the energy that charges his work up so well, thus the sweet, mid-paced groove of "He Don't Love You Like I Love You" and the even better "Girlfriend."
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett