Even the most hardened cynic would have to feel a slight twinge of sympathy for the latest X Factor winner, Leon Jackson. Not only was his victory met with a rather underwhelming response, but he also has the unfortunate task of following the show's previous winner, the transatlantic chart-topper and multi-platinum-selling Leona Lewis. To give his behind-the-scenes team credit, they've refused to rush-release any old quick-buck covers album, and instead have invested time and faith in him as an artist, giving him a full nine months to prepare an album, over half of which is new material. And while Right Now might not contain a "Bleeding Love," it is a surprisingly well-produced collection of songs that perfectly complement Jackson's ever-improving rich and soulful voice. First single "Don't Call It Love" is an ideal opener, its classy orchestration and jazz-lite melodies paving the way for the contemporary swing sound that dominates the album. The sassy rhumba-esque "Creative" and the toe-tapping big-band title track could give Michael Bublé a run for his money, while "Could Do Better" echoes the Burt Bacharach lounge-pop of fellow talent contest winner Will Young's debut. However, the album's highlight is on the soaring strings and uplifting chorus of "Stargazing," where Jackson abandons his signature sound for the kind of MOR pop/rock that made Take That's recent comeback so successful. Right Now suffers when it unnecessarily and lazily resorts to unimaginative cover versions, with "Caledonia," "Misty Blue," and "A Song for You" all given the same karaoke treatment that blighted Westlife and Robbie Williams' similar attempts into Rat Pack territory. And his X Factor single, "When You Believe," a cover of the Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston Oscar winner, is as predictable and as bland as you'd expect. Right Now is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside his fan base who voted for him to win a year earlier. But it far surpasses the rather lowly expectations and gives Jackson a fighting chance of making it to album number two.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien