After the winner has been crowned on any Pop Idol series, there is a desperate need to make a product available to the public. For the Australian Idol 2006 winner Damien Leith Sony BMG decided against hastily putting together a sub-standard album in favor of crafting a superior debut for 2007. To fill this void they released The Winner's Journey, a collection of Leith's live performances from the competition show, as well as the Australian number one hit single "Night of My Life," written specifically for the Top Two contestants. In a decisive step to show the personality of the Idol finalists, Leith and runner-up Jessica Mauboy had distinctively different arrangements of the song. Whereas Mauboy's rendition favored a Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey dance flavor, Leith's acoustic-driven pop version allowed him to showcase his powerful falsetto; arguably his most winning trait on Australian Idol, along with his Irish heritage. The compilation begins with the studio release of "Night of My Life," followed by the single's B-side, "Come to Me," written by Leith himself. Rather than offering all of Leith's appearances on the disc chronologically, what follows next are 12 of his 16 performances, in no discernible order. Whilst the accompanying DVD does give the buyer everything, there are noticeable exclusions on the CD, namely Leith's out of character disco attempt "Celebration," which was not welcomed favorably by Idol's judges. Highlights include a stirring rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying," yet another Buckley-esque interpretation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and a "Touchdown" earning show-stopping performance of "Nessun Dorma," a feat that echoed 2004 Idol contestant Anthony Collea's choice of Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer" in 2004. The collection closes with Leith's own song "Sky," featured on the Up Close and Personal episode. This collection delivers exactly what it offers, and if you were a big fan of Leith's while he was on television, this is a great souvenir of his time on Australian Idol. Anyone familiar with the program's format will possibly forgive the shortened versions of the songs, but casual listeners could be frustrated by being given half a song, particular in the case of "Crying" or "Wicked Game." There is nothing unheard or unseen here, unless you didn't buy the "Night of My Life" single, so this may be strictly for fans only. In addition to all his Top 12 live performances, the DVD also offers Leith's profile from the TV series.
AllMusic Review by Clayton Bolger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2