A polished, chart-conquering affair, but detached from Sean’s roots.
Mike Diver 2009-12-04
Jay Sean’s recent success stateside – two million copies of Down sold – has pointed the domestic spotlight his way like never before. 2004 debut Me Against Myself was a hit in India, and 2008’s My Own Way charted highly, but it’s All or Nothing that truly marks Sean’s arrival in the pop world.
And it’s a good thing that this album will, largely, be making its way into the homes of those with little previous experience of the artist born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti, as some of these tracks were present and correct on My Own Way. A case of Sean, or more likely those above him pulling the strings, looking to rip off his following? Not really – All or Nothing should be seen as the first chapter in the next book of Sean’s story, so it’s okay that echoes of his past are carried over. After all, contemporary achievements are nothing without context.
The Londoner’s distanced himself from Rishi Rich’s bhangra backings that characterised his debut and carried over, albeit to a less-obvious extent, to My Own Way – All or Nothing is almost exclusively indebted to the slick RnB/soul of numerous US pop stars, and sits tidily beside the eponymous debut from talent show crew JLS. There’s the distinct sense that Sean’s chasing dollars rather than developing singular sensibilities, the niche he carved for himself five years ago forgotten.
Down is, admittedly, huge – no additional explanation required as to why it’s been such a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Having Lil Wayne aboard doesn’t damage Sean’s credibility any, either, although further collaborations are less appealing. A by-the-book vocal from Sean Paul doesn’t improve Do You Remember in the slightest, and the barks from crunk gob-for-hire Lil Jon are needless. UK edition hook-ups with Craig David and ex-Sugababe Keisha Buchanan do only act as leg-ups for the guests, both in the pop wilderness at present. On a strictly solo front, Stay is a neat fusion of soulful vocals and subcontinent vibes, but it’s among the numbers to have made the jump from album two to three.
No disappointment when compared to many albums of its ilk, and perfectly polished of assembly, All or Nothing confirms Sean as the pop star he’s dreamed of becoming. But longer-term fans are certain to be disappointed by an unashamed move to embrace the US market at the expense of his British-Asian roots.