Album: Mr Hudson, Straight No Chaser (Mercury)

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The Independent Culture

His executive producer Kanye West has been quoted as saying: "I believe Mr Hudson has the potential to be bigger than me, to be one of the most important artists of his generation", which sounds uncharacteristically generous of the thunder-stealing stage-jumper.

Bigger than Kanye? Is that even, y'know, possible? But recent collaborations on singles with both Kanye and Jay-Z suggest that little is being left to chance for Mr Hudson, whose days of touring British libraries are clearly behind him. He still seems stunned by the attention, wondering at one point "I'm just a boy from Birmingham, another imposter on a major-label roster – how did I get here?". But he may have fallen into bad company: much of Straight No Chaser is drenched with the auto-tune vocal gimmick so favoured by Kanye – which, given that Hudson's voice has a timbre akin to Chris Martin and Sting, may not be the shrewdest move. But given his head, the singer brings a quaintly British tone to proceedings, with the prancing piano of cheer-up anthem "Lift Your Head" recalling Elton John and Alan Price, and "Stiff Upper Lip" effecting an impressive rapprochement between quintessentially English imagery, American banjo-picking, and European glitchy groove.

Download this Stiff Upper Lip, Lift Your Head, Instant Messenger, White Lies