While Daniel's stubbornly sincere lyrics are often touching and revealing, heartfelt...
Lisa Haines 2004-11-29
'Second First Impression', the assured second album from Daniel Bedingfield, is a clever showcase for his versatile songwriting skills. A near fatal car crash in New Zealand was a sobering glitch in an otherwise phenomenal run of success which saw Daniel's debut album 'Gotta Get Thru This' win critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.
And with the keys to Polydor's studios plus an army of accomplished musicians at his disposal, Daniel has returned to the spotlight with this polished follow up.
Respected producer Jack Joseph Puig, an expert mixer who has worked with Green Day and No Doubt, has helped Daniel deliver a collection which ditches the clubbing credibility of his debut in favour of a diverse collection of R&B, rock and well, slush...
Sometimes the relentless switching in styles gives the impression Daniel is unsure which direction to pursue: voice of the streets, or smooth ballad-meister? But what does it matter - he manages to develop his vocal style whilst doubling his audience.
Groovy R&B tracks 'Growing Up' and 'Complicated', are a mile away from sincere ballads like 'A Kiss without Commitment', which exhibit his vocal similarities to singer-songwriter Paul Simon, a cited influence. And Bedingfield rocks out on 'The Way', an excellent track elevated above everything else on the album by a distinctive and catchy chorus. It sounds like it could have been written by Sting, another influence, and its fast-pace and jagged guitar sound create a cool noise undermined only by soggy lyrics like: "This is the way of the moon, waxing and wane, fro-ing and to."
Directly after this noteworthy detour, Daniel launches into 'All Your Attention', a saccharine love ballad which drops rock n' roll in favour of the Justin Timberlake school of R&B. The two songs make odd stable mates but are still good in their own right, a rule which applies to the placement of most of the album's tracks.
But while Daniel's stubbornly sincere lyrics are often touching and revealing, heartfelt apologies for obscure childhood arguments with your sister, as on 'Sorry', are best left in the playground. I was left wondering, just who is the real Daniel Bedingfield? He writes about his battles with temptation, the album is all about the allure of the opposite sex and Daniel's struggles to resist them, but he makes music that people like to be tempted to.
The suggestive rumblings on opening tracks 'Growing Up' and 'Complicated' burst with a sexual intent which is utterly undermined by such ultra-lame lyrics as: "Jessica your heart is like a newly budding rose," ('A Kiss Without Commitment').
Oh please, but even so, Daniel's determined commitment to his Christian beliefs, so evident on 'Draw You' and 'Holiness', at least mark him out from his more libidinous counterparts. And such commitment deserves to be treated with respect, as does this album.