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Bryn Christopher - My World

Bryn Christopher, My World

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT’S an easy, even obvious comparison to make, but the new album from Brummie retro-soul singer Bryn Christopher should offer easy appeal to anyone who was recently swept away by Amy Winehouse.

Polydor Records co-president Colin Barlow has noted it, several music critics have, and it’s sure to be one of the most striking features of the new album, My World, to anyone that hears it – and we suspect that will be a lot of people.

The LP is a confident, snappy blend of Memphis rooted soul that cuts a funky swathe across the dancefloor for most of its running time. Christopher clearly has a great voice and has combined it well with his love of Northern Soul, incorporating elements of classic Stevie Wonder, the Jacksons and even Otis Reading into the mix. It’s very much the male equivalent of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and it comes as absolutely no surprise that he has already supported her.

But enough of those particular comparisons. What of the album itself? Is it any good? Mostly, yes. The retro values are a plus side, as are Christopher’s emphatic vocals. But thanks to the well-chosen singles, it’s an album that’s capable of easy appeal that should help the singer to emerge as a major performer in his own right. What’s more, he’s arrived just in time to keep ahead of any soul revival backlash.

The album begins with a flourish, with hand-clap classic Help Me emerging as a loud siren call to the dance floor, whilst simultaneously delivering a personal exorcism of his struggle to be recognised as a single. It’s got some sassy backing singers, some sharp stabs of brass, and an enthusiasm that channels the energy of a lot of Danger Mouse produced material.

Smilin’, its most recent single, is an instant classic – a song about addiction that thrives from a killer guitar riff and chorus; Stay With Me hits a mid-tempo vibe that’s rooted in Motown qualities, and The Quest combines classic soul values with a hard-hitting and very relevant personal tale of his brother’s posting to Basra, in Iraq. The questioning nature of the track is genuinely emotive, with lines like “what you gonna live for, what you gonna die for? I can’t answer that”.

Elsewhere, the party vibe returns on title track My World, which even bears comparison with classic Tom Jones (dare I say?!), while Found A New Love mixes in some gospel, a little blues and a groovy combo of dusky guitar riffs and sassy horns.

Further highlights come from the slow-burner The Way You Are, which finds Christopher entering crooner territory, and GoneGoneGone.

Indeed, there are only two real misfires – an ill-advised cover version of Portishead’s seminal Sour Times, which attempts to infuse it with some James Bond style cinematic qualities and arrives far too early on the album, and My Kinda Woman, which sounds like Christopher is trying too hard.

But in all other respects, this is a rightly confident debut album that heralds the arrival of a major new soul star. And who knows, he may yet surpass Winehouse’s achievements if he avoids some of the more dangerous trappings of fame.

Download picks: Help Me, Smilin’, GoneGoneGone, The Quest, The Way You Are

Track listing:

  1. Help Me
  2. Smilin’
  3. Sour Times
  4. Stay With Me
  5. The Quest
  6. My World
  7. Found A New Love
  8. Seconds Ago
  9. The Way You Are
  10. GoneGoneGone
  11. My Kinda Woman/Taken Me Over
  12. Taken Me Over