Like fellow Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show winner Connie Fisher, Essex vocalist Lee Mead has successfully crossed over to the pop charts, alongside treading the boards in some of the West End's most popular stage shows. Following his self-titled Top 20 debut album, released on the back of his victory in the BBC talent search to find the new lead for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, his follow-up, Nothing Else Matters, continues to distance his recording career from his theater background. Produced by Graham Stack (Rod Stewart), its combination of new compositions and cover versions of contemporary AOR classics is a far cry from the traditional show tunes that catapulted him to stardom. Indeed, rather than the John Barrowman or Michael Ball-style collection of musical favorites and traditional standards one might have expected, Nothing Else Matters instead is a commercial radio-friendly affair that echoes the anthemic acoustic pop of Take That's triumphant comeback, particularly on the huge chorus of the opening title track and "Breathe You Out," one of two tracks co-written by Mead. Elsewhere, "When the Stars Go Blue" is a sweetly performed duet with soprano Hayley Westenra that recalls the commercial country of Lady Antebellum, "Everything I Left Behind" is a gorgeous melodic ballad with shades of Ronan Keating's early output, and "Time to Say Goodbye" is an epic orchestral tale of heartbreak that showcases Mead's warm and powerful vocal tones. Indeed, considering the strength of its original material, the decision to include four cover versions seems both pointless and unnecessary. Whether it's a lack of faith in his songwriting skills or a slight concession to his reality show days, the likes of Spandau Ballet's "Through the Barricades," Extreme's "More Than Words," and Train's "Drops of Jupiter" are all given the same unimaginative karaoke treatment that undermines his apparent credible artist ambitions. Nothing Else Matters may disappoint fans hoping for an album full of well-known numbers from his day job, but if Mead could have a little more courage in his convictions, there's no reason why both his pop and stage career can't satisfy two very different audiences.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien