Monday, January 23, 2017

Shayne Ward-Shayne Ward (2006)


THE best forty-nine minutes of pop music bliss I've enjoyed so far in this 2017 year are all right here! At least three of my closest blog followers had recommended the winner of the second season of Britain's "The X Factor" to me within the past five years. Yet despite that recommendation, plus the fact that I'd already heard the marvelous voice of Shayne Ward on the contemporary music airwaves countless times within the past decade, I must confess that he and his musical accomplishments are all still fairly new to me. So I found myself beginning to catch up on what I've been missing out on, then, with this self-titled debut album, which I'm sure was critically acclaimed partially on the strength of his popular smash radio hit, "All My Life". This is like some pure r&b gold right here, ladies and gentlemen! I must've heard this one a hundred times before I even realized he was the voice behind it; the first time, I vividly recall marveling at this then-unknown-man's lush, soulful vocals that had instantly captivated my attention. From that moment on, "All My Life" had become one of the signature songs that always popped into my head with every mention of the name Shayne Ward. And as for the other one? Well, it's not exactly his song, but rather, a brilliant cover of the Brian McKnight gem, "Back At One", which too was—and has remained—hugely popular on the contemporary radio airwaves. I've always loved the graceful flow of the chorus with the lyrics defining the five steps to falling in love—one that never gets tired and old, for sure! Now that I have cover songs on my mind again, I may as well go ahead and rave now about his epic rendition of "What About Me?". Knew I'd heard this one before when I heard the familiar words of ' it isn't fair ' in the chorus; I really should've kicked myself for not instantly knowing that the original was by the Aussie band, MOVING PICTURES, way back in 1982. Always loved the big hook and the rising vocals in the chorus on this one, which is a talent that Shayne shows off well and quite often all throughout ths album, in fact. At this point, I had already been more than convinced that this guy can cover any and every soft rock and r&b ballad in the whole popular music catalog! On every song, he concludes in grand fashion, whether all by himself on "What About Me?" or with the backing unified choir on the opening selection "That's My Goal" (the powerful ending is like a metaphor of him having triumphed and won over the lady's heart and soul), "Someone To Love" (his lyrics speaking to loneliness on this gem seem to say, ' Ha! I've defeated and conquered you! ') and "Stand By Me" (not a cover of the Ben E. King classic, but actually does maintain a similar theme with his own tender, heartfelt lyrics). Although the vast majority of his offerings here keep the grooves on the slow and easy, it's cool that he tosses in a few uptempo dance-pop pieces to give you something to jam to: "Something Worth Living For" (love the mellow and fluidity of this one; such an elegantly arranged and presented tribute) and the mega-groovy, feel-gooder "Next To Me". Then to top it all off: a contemporary remake of the Judy Garland classic, "over The Rainbow", which never gets old. Never watched live performance, but I'm sure the fans were impressed, judging from the crowd's reactions after he shows off his amazingly soaring voice at the very end:

1. That's My Goal
2. No Promises
3. Stand By Me
4. All My Life
5. You're Not Alone
6. I Cry
7. What About Me?
8. Back At One
9. Someone To Love
10. Something Worth Living For
11. A Better Man
12. Next To Me
13. Over The Rainbow (Live On "The X Factor")

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