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Will Young - Let It Go

Will Young, Let It Go

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

WILL Young claims that he really started to feel like a songwriter on this, his fourth album. He also adopted a back-to-basics approach by focusing on strong melodies and personal lyrics, whilst also ringing the changes.

The most immediate impression is that he does display a more mature style, though not necessarily a different one. Whereas some bands and songwriters seek to push themselves forward by radically changing style (such as U2, Mercury Rev or Blur through the ages), Young just seems to deliver songs with more meaning.

There are fewer insipid offerings on Let It Go; but neither is it a grandstanding achievement. It’s not the defining moment of Young’s career thus far, or even a new beginning. Rather, it’s polished, almost always radio friendly and guaranteed to offend no one.

Think Simply Red, George Michael or even James Blunt, with a few more soulful touches and the odd flirtation with that long-threatened image makeover.

Album opener and lead single Changes is therefore a false dawn. A trademark Will Young song that desperately wants to emulate George Michael… unsuccessfully. When he sings of the changes he wishes to make, though, there’s a renewed sense of hope that the rest of the album won’t follow a similar path.

And second track Grace is actually a very assured mid-tempo ballad, expertly delivered, mature, yet pop-friendly courtesy of the “whoa whoa” backing melodies. It’s actually an early album highpoint.

But Won’t Look Down is sub-standard soul crooning that kicks off with the uninspired lyric “the radio plays a love song and every word seems to speak the truth”, as well as drawing on lame organs, while Tell Me The Worst squanders the darker lyricism (“show me your scars”), with the type of chorus that’s ripped right out of a Maroon 5 song.

Attempts to give some kick to the soul, a la Jamie Cullum, backfire badly on the limp I Won’t Give Up, while If Love Equals Nothing is a truly dispiriting ballad, delivered in stripped down form, that takes an eternity to unfold.

In between, Disconnected offers another highlight… a frank, honest look at a failing relationship that’s even honest about the singer’s own sexuality. The chorus wimps out a little, but the verses are worth listening to.

The introduction of flutes on the ’70s-styled Love finds Young channelling Off The Wall era Michael Jackson, complete with cheesy ’80s synths (another dismal song), but Simple Philosophy is a smooth performer built around some lush orchestration. It’s another example of Young sounding more assured.

Title track Let It Go is largely forgettable, as is Are You Happy, but there’s a keen romanticism surrounding You Don’t Know that slowly unfolds into another strong offering, complete with strings, while album closer Free My Mind is another notable slow-burner.

For all its talk of change, though, this is exactly the type of album you may have been expecting. Tailor-made for the fans, and capable of pleasing them in spades, but not really the stretch we’d been promised, it’s only really an average listen.

Download picks: Grace, Disconnected, Simple Philosophy, You Don’t Know, Free My Mind

Track listing:

  1. Changes
  2. Grace
  3. Won’t Look Down
  4. Tell Me The Worst
  5. I Won’t Give Up
  6. Disconnected
  7. If Love Equals Nothing
  8. Love
  9. Simple Philosophy
  10. Let It Go
  11. Are You Happy
  12. You Don’t Know
  13. Free My Mind

  1. Harsh… but somehow fair. Tee hee

    Jake    Oct 1    #
  2. I’m not sure why an Indie style publication is even reviewing this. Will is pop/soul and fans of that genre will be happy with this album. I wouldn’t really expect an Indie fan to have even considered it.

    John Griffiths    Oct 4    #
  3. To clarify, the indie in IndieLondon stands for independent thinking. Not indie music per se. If we were an exclusively indie site, we probably wouldn’t be doing movies, or theatre, or going out etc.
    Likewise, we consider ALL types of music. So, Will Young is perfectly within our remit and the review stands as a considered piece of journalism.

    Jack Foley    Oct 4    #
  4. I believe it is way too harsh and purely a matter of taste and opinion.As for sub-standard soul crooning…i pass..!

    maggie    Oct 4    #
  5. so you think no:1 comment is a “considered piece of journalism” TUT…TUT.!

    maggie    Oct 5    #
  6. Whether informed or not, there’s no escaping the widely held opinion that Will Young is over-rated. As a long-term reader of indielondomn, I often admire what Jack has to say about music and have benefitted from serveral of his recommendations. There’s no point in crucifying the guy, or resorting to tired reasoning, for not liking this particular albu,m. Put simply, it’s not very good… and even my wife admits it!

    Tom    Oct 8    #