Daniel Merriweather – Love and War (J Records)


Rating: 3.75/5

Daniel Merriwether first burst onto the scene as the featured vocalist on Mark Ronson’s hit cover of The Smith’s ‘Stop Me’. There was quite a buzz around the single and so Ronson repaid the favour by producing Merriweather’s debut album Love and War.

First things first, the album has Mark Ronson’s name written all over it. After the smash that was Back To Black it seems Ronson has discovered a winning formula (i.e. classic soul sounds + vocalist = hit record) and is sticking with it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Love and War is a strong album and contains some great tracks, but it’s all well and good doing ‘retro’ if you’re a) adding something to it or b) doing it REALLY well (see Raphael Saadiq’s The Way It Is), otherwise what’s the point?

As I mentioned, Love and War does have some great tracks. Second single ‘Red’ should really generate some momentum behind the project and help people discover other gems on the album such as the ridiculously catchy ‘Impossible’, the soulful ‘Getting Out’ and the album highlight ‘Water and a Flame’ featuring UK songstress Adele (who, it must be said, somewhat steals the show). However, in places it sounds like Mark Ronson has taken the whole retro vibe a bit too far. You keep expecting Daniel to drop into ‘California Dreaming’ on ‘Could You’ and the ‘la la la’s’ on first single ‘Change’ do nothing to increase the authenticity of the track. Another point I would make is that while Daniel does possess a very good voice, on some tracks (such as ‘Chainsaw’) he lacks the emotion and ‘soul’ of the classics the album is paying homage to.

All in all, the album is a strong debut that I’m sure it will be a commercial hit here in the UK. Perfect or the upcoming summer months, I know I for one will be playing it over and over. Let’s just hope that on his follow up Daniel branches out and works with a few other producers to flesh out his sound a bit … then we could have a REAL hit on our hands.

Release date: 1st June 2009



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