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Taio Cruz - Departure

Taio Cruz, Departure

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE first thing to admit is that Departure, the debut album from latest chart sensation Taio Cruz, isn’t as terrible as I’d been anticipating. For sure, there are some horrible moments, but there are also some guilty pleasures.

At age 23, Taio has been described as “the new Babyface” by Dallas Austin, but the singer-songwriter has consistently been able to attract some of the leading names in the American music industry to work with him. Tricky Stewart, the man behind Rihanna’s Umbrella has worked with him [indeed, that song was originally written for Taio to perform], as have the likes of Mark Ronson protege Daniel Merriweather and Esseme (the first signing to Justin Timberlake’s new label).

But Departure is an album of his own material, having been written, performed, arranged and produced by the man himself. The result is slick, Kiss FM friendly listen that doesn’t grate as much as I’d been expecting.

Former single Come On Girl is still one of the lamest offerings on the LP, an upbeat dancefloor filler that’s trying too desperately to emulate the likes of Justin Timberlake and co. And songs like I Can Be are unashamedly cheesy, delivering a euphoric sound that’s based around processed beats and upbeat string arrangements.

But when he comes over all moody and serious, it’s hard to resist if you get your kicks from the mainstream. I Just Wanna Know ought to be laughably self-important, but thanks to some slick back beats, more useful string arrangements and a decent vocal delivery, it’s actually quite a smooth groover.

The same production values work for I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love and Moving On, which could well find themselves at the centre of some music-based movie soundtrack thanks to their cinematic quality.

And Never Gonna Get Us and She’s Like A Star, which utilises a young girls’ vocals at the start, also emerge as solid pop songs that could well be turned into massive singles (the latter actually copies from Craig David and does it better!).

Taio Cruz was born and raised in the UK to a Nigerian dad and a Brazilian mum and has been influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. He began making his own demos as a teenager and started swapping beats with Timbaland at 18. Indeed, that super-producer’s influence is apparent throughout. It helps to ensure that Departure will be a massive seller on both sides of the Atlantic that will probably generate far better reviews [and deservedly so] than many of its contemporaries.

Download picks: I Just Wanna Know, She’s Like A Star, Moving On, Never Gonna Get Us, I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love

Track listing:

  1. I’ll Never Love Again
  2. I Just Wanna Know
  3. I Can Be
  4. I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love
  5. So Cold
  6. Fly Away
  7. Moving On
  8. Come On Girl
  9. Never Gonna Get Us
  10. She’s Like A Star