Album review: John Newman, Tribute (Island)

 

Rudimental's "Feel the Love" proclaimed John Newman as a powerful new voice in UK R&B, an impression reinforced by his chart-topper "Love Me Again". But he's keen to demonstrate how much deeper his influences go, introducing this album with a litany of soul singers' names leading into "Tribute", his smoky timbre borne on exultant strings that also allude to a classic-soul era. It's impressive stuff, though as early as the third or fourth track, the formula of impassioned smouldering leading to hugely telegraphed refrains is getting a little predictable. Variety is furnished by the desolate plaint of "Out of My Head" and the gospelly backing vocals of "Running", also the source of the album's best line: "Trying to stop a river when it wants to rise."

Download: Tribute; Love Me Again; Running

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