After hitting the big time with the ubiquitous 2006 single "Bad Day," singer/songwriter Daniel Powter returned in 2008 with Under the Radar. That album failed to garner the same level of attention as "Bad Day" and Powter fell on troubled times, shying away from the spotlight and burying his anxieties in a variety of distractions that landed him in rehab. Cut to 2012 and Powter's fourth studio album, Turn On the Lights, finds him returning to the melodic, brightly produced sound of his smash 2006 self-titled release. Which isn't to say that 2008's Under the Radar wasn't melodic -- or bad for that matter -- it just didn't contain any songs that jumped out and grabbed you in the way much of his previous work had. There was also an aura of spiritual heaviness and a weariness of fame that clearly plagued Powter and was evident on many of the songs on the album. In contrast, much of the work on Turn On the Lights has an airy, enthusiastic sound that speaks to Powter's reclaimed pop energy. To these ends, we get the cheery and romantic leadoff cut "Cupid," which finds Powter celebrating the little everyday things that keep couples together. He croons, "When I sing out of key/Still play air guitar for me/Let's get stupid dancing with Cupid tonight." It is just that knack for matching the mundane ironies and charming details of life with hummable melodies that drew people to "Bad Day," and which is evident all over Turn On the Lights. Similarly engaging, the midtempo "The Day We Never Met" is a sparkling, piano-driven melodic pop love song that finds Powter painting a picture of a different kind of bad day in which he never meets the love of his life. Elsewhere, he updates the '70s Bee Gees sound with the disco meets contemporary dance-pop number "Crazy All My Life," and keeps the '70s vibe rolling with the anthemic, falsetto-infused Elton John-style ballad "Best of Me." After one bad day and years of bad times, Powter has re-emerged from the darkness, and Turn On the Lights is certainly a bright spot in his career.
Turn on the Lights Review
by Matt Collar