Nearly a full year after he was surprisingly beaten by Leon Jackson in the fourth series of the X-Factor, Welshman Rhydian Roberts returns with his self-titled debut. Unlike Jackson, whose solid if unspectacular Right Now album at least attempted to avoid pure karaoke, Rhydian's over-reliance on cover versions hardly justifies the long wait. Missing the opportunity to inject some originality into the rather formulaic pop-opera genre, Rhydian plays it disappointingly safe. Notably absent are the flamboyant interpretations of the likes of Pink's "Get the Party Started," that endeared him to millions of viewers. In their place are competent but utterly forgettable renditions of obvious standards such as "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "I Believe" that fail to convey his confident persona and trademark penchant for theatrical high camp. Rhydian, a classically trained singer no less, is undoubtedly a talented vocalist, and the likes of "Impossible Dream" and "There Will Be a Time" sound tailor-made for impassioned rugby stadium singalongs, but there's very little on here that hasn't been done a million times before. "To Where You Are" popped up on G4's debut, "Somewhere" appeared on Il Divo's Siempre album, while "The Prayer" has been covered by everyone from Charlotte Church to brother duo RyanDan. Only the Idina Menzel duet "What If," a rather random cover of the Kate Winslet hit and the sole original, "I'm Coming Home Again," a rather heartfelt ode to his home country, shows any sign of creative thinking. Rhydian will still appeal to the lucrative housewives market but overall, his exuberant personality has been too diluted to set him apart from the countless other crossover classical artists.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien