music-justin-bieber-believe-acoustic-album-artwork
reviewrate3_5

With his personal life constantly put under the microscope, many know the story of Justin Bieber and how he went from being a YouTube sensation to the world’s biggest pop star. With that said, how many people have actually dissected and absorbed his music? Stripping back the electronic elements as well as rap features, the teen icon returns with Believe Acoustic – a guitar dominated version of his 2012 album Believe. Possibly the smartest move musically the youngster has made to date, the 11-track collection showcases his vocal talents and harmonic arrangements; and in all honesty the naysayers will be very surprised.

While he has an army of fans – his Twitter followers currently stands at 33.8 million – he also has a hoard of haters who claim he’s contributed to the passing of real music. Not really a fair statement being that he’s given the youth something PG13 to listen to that doesn’t involve shaking ass or imperfections being highlighted, Bieber’s latest project is far from the candy coated pop that purists love to hate. In fact, this project could be the coming of age offering he needed to prove his worth.

Whilst not containing every track from the original Believe, fan favourites such as ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and ‘Beauty And A Beat’ are featured and twisted to suit the acoustic framework in which Bieber offers out.

The new version of ‘Boyfriend’, which the album opens up with, is actually a beautiful rendition with relaxation qualities; even if you are more aware of the fact that the words boyfriend and girlfriend are the song’s main two lyrics. ‘All Around The World’, minus Ludacris, is also another remixed version that sounds better than its predecessor.

With Dan Kanter behind the production boards, the mellow atmosphere present throughout Believe Acoustic is the reason this project could well be deemed Justin Bieber’s finest musical moment to date. You’re given the opportunity to hear him exactly as his YouTube fans did back before the money and fame; it’s plain, simple, and vocally strong.

Now whether or not Bieber himself was behind any of the actual guitar playing is a question for the man himself. Regardless, the inclusion of strings and keys only was a great idea. When was the last time a pop star with bubblegum characteristics took the risk to prove they have way more to offer than what the Top 40 deems acceptable? For Bieber to do it this early on in his career was a risk, but one worth taking that will only improve his popularity and credibility.

One of the only stumbling blocks noticeable comes in the form of light being shone on some of the Canadian’s immature lyrical content – these same lyrics might have been missed on the original album due to the overpowering of a beat or suchlike. With lines such as, “I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold,” brought closer to your ears, a cringe here and there might make its way to your face. Also the non-inclusion of ‘Right Here’ might disappoint a few fans. Easily the strongest record taken from Believe, there must have been a reason for not including it. Perhaps turning it in to an acoustic track ruined it. Who knows?

Introducing a few never-before-heard songs, the likes of ‘Nothing Like Us’ and ‘She Don’t Like The Lights’, which was available on the deluxe edition of Believe, are a nice addition to the album, but it’s the other two newbies that take centre stage. ‘Yellow Raincoat’ sounds more like a neo-soul ballad due to the way in which Bieber’s vocals are arranged, while ‘I Would‘ goes a step further and mirrors something that modern blues musician John Mayer might put out. The inclusion of drums on the track switches the pace and alerts you to its presence that bit quicker. With that said, it’s an extremely strong record.

What’s refreshing about this release is the lack of electro backdrops which in turn allows the listener to hear Bieber’s perfect pitch and soothing vocals. As he gets older his music is becoming more refined and tailored more towards the R&B audience, much like when Justin Timberlake was first introduced as a solo artist. Listening to this as someone who doesn’t judge an artist based upon their past work, there’s no doubt a few new fans will start to pay attention, and they might just be of the older age group.

Justin Bieber – Believe Acoustic
Label: Island Def Jam
Released: January 29, 2013
Buy: iTunes / Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk