The U.K. may have struggled to find anything approaching an authentic rock star during its eight series of The X-Factor, but it's played a huge part in finding one for Australia's version in the shape of teenager Reece Mastin, who won the 2011 third series six years after moving with his family from Scunthorpe to the other side of the world. Following the formula of previous winner Altiyan Childs' debut, his self-titled first effort is a covers-heavy affair recorded in a staggeringly quick three days, but despite its rushed and predictable approach, it's a far more encouraging listen. That's partly down to Mastin, who possesses both a self-assured swagger far beyond his years and a powerful gritty voice, impressively showcased by the Steven Tyler-esque howls on his faithful take of Aerosmith's "Dream On," and a convincing Jared Leto impression on the rousing emo rock of 30 Seconds to Mars' "Closer to the Edge." And it's partly down to the production, which either instills the familiar material with a surprisingly raw energy, as on the proggy blues-rock of Wolfmother's "Joker & the Thief" and Guns N' Roses' glam-metal anthem' "Paradise City," or offers a new spin, as on "Stayin' Alive," which borrows the iconic guitar riff from Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" to transform the Bee Gees' disco classic into a dramatic slice of symphonic rock, and Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved," given the stripped-back treatment with the aid of some melancholic Celtic violins. Mastin doesn't always manage to translate his talent contest promise so successfully. Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" and Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" are turned into obnoxious, early-2000s-style, bratty, pop-punk rackets, the Script's "Breakeven" and Bon Jovi's "Always" are nothing more than glorified karaoke, while the only original composition, the winner's single "Good Night," might as well be a cover, such is its blatant similarity to P!nk's "Raise Your Glass." But considering its hurried inception, this is a surprisingly strong debut which suggests the apprentice rock star is capable of turning into the real deal.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien