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Olly Murs - Olly Murs

Olly Murs, Olly Murs

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

OLLY Murs is the latest singer to emerge from The X Factor production line and – it has to be said – one of the more carefree.

A former runner-up, Murs seems to subscribe to a care-free philosophy in all that he does, opting to go for playful and uplifting rather than soulful and overbearing. It helps to make his eponymous debut album more endearing that it really ought to be… in spite of being quite average for most of the time.

Heavily inflicted with ska and reggae influences, and a cheeky chappy boy next door sort of appeal, it bounds along in an attempt to bring some musical sunshine into the dark, cold winter months.

The two lead singles – former No.1 Please Don’t Let Me Go and Thinking of Me – feature prominently early on and, perhaps worryingly, don’t offer too much variation on the reggae inflicted theme.

But there are intermittently moments of hope, where a greater diversity and maturity are evident for potential future recordings. Album opener Change Is Gonna Come, for instance, drops a piano and guitar vibe that’s more Primal Scream than Sam Cooke (as its name suggests), complete with a lively chorus and a rousing self-empowerment theme.

Alas, there’s not much of the change promised in the title thereafter until you hit the piano-led ballad Ask Me To Stay, which flirts outrageously with Phil Collins’ Against All Odds at several points. But it does, at least, show that Murs can deliver an assured ballad and put his soulful vocals to good use. It’s an unexpected highlight.

Elsewhere, Busy has a breezy Jack Johnson meets Jason Mraz kind of vibe attached to it, while Heart On My Sleeve once more showcases Murs ability to break hearts with the type of sharply delivered ballad that should easily appeal to Take That fans.

But each time you think that he may be about to depart permanently from that reggae vibe (arguably not his strongest suit in the context of what he can achieve) he tosses in another one in throwaway fashion.

Hence, as upbeat and unaffecting as the likes of I Blame Hollywood, Hold On, Love Shine Down and even Thinking of Me are, they’re pretty instantly disposable.

Late on, he’s even prone to the over-cooked ballad with final track A Million More Years subscribing to the type of unnecessarily over-wrought song-writing that blights so many of Westlife or Ronan Keating offerings.

Thankfully, Don’t Say Goodbye completes the hat-trick of better ballads that mark Murs out as an artist to watch in the future. Right now, he’s getting by on charm and goodwill, with only fleeting moments of genuine quality.

Download picks: Change is Gonna Come, Ask Me To Stay, Heart On My Sleeve, Don’t Say Goodbye
Track listing:

  1. Change is Gonna Come
  2. Please Don’t Let Me Go
  3. Thinking of Me
  4. Busy
  5. I Blame Hollywood
  6. Ask Me To Stay
  7. Heart On My Sleeve
  8. Hold On
  9. Accidental
  10. Love Shine Down
  11. Don’t Say Goodbye
  12. A Million More Years