James Morrison's debut had already gone platinum in Britain before it was released in the U.S., and the young singer/songwriter has scored hit singles at home. With a pleasantly soulful voice that faintly recalls Stevie Wonder, he offers several slices of polite soul-pop that deftly manage to recall the heyday of soul while still managing to sound modern -- a neat balancing trick. However, smooth as Morrison sounds, for much of the album there's a distinct lack of passion in his voice -- and that's a prime ingredient of real soul music. Only on "Call the Police" does he summon any real anguish. "You Give Me Something," his first British hit, is catchy and memorable, but not a classic. Indeed, this is an album without soul classics. Ultimately it's more a piece of pop, but there's nothing wrong with that. Time will tell how ephemeral the songs will be, but Morrison shows here that he might become a real talent with some age and work, and maybe a little personal pain wouldn't hurt. He has a hand in all the songs here, showing definite qualities as a writer. Again, time will tell.
by Chris Nickson