Merriweather’s debut is most certainly up there with the best in new school soul.
Elle J Small 2009
Like Amy Winehouse (but without the drugs) and Joss Stone (but without the cheese), Merriweather is a 21st century prodigy of old school, classic soul. Remarkably and thankfully, his Mark Ronson-produced debut album, Love and War, fulfils all expectations.
As soon as opener For Your Money kicks in, you realise this is a very special record. Australian Merriweather’s vocal instantly haunts as he delivers a tale of inner-city life, set in New York. A simplistic yet beautiful piano melody glides, drums tremble the heart and the standard is set very high.
The hypnotic beats of Impossible then ensue as Merriweather’s vocal acrobatics and his backing vocalist’s doowops create a thoroughly old school, Motown vibe.
By this point it is clear the music industry’s long wait for 26-year-old Merriweather to deliver his first debut album has been very worth while. Having bubbled away on the underground soul circuit for several years (popping up on Mark Ronson and Wiley records, amongst others), Merriweather has seriously honed his skills.
Next up is radio smash Change, with its contagious ‘la-la-la-las’, sing-song delivery and slick raps from Wale.
Chainsaw harks, once again, back to the Motown era as Merriweather questions his seriously destructive love life. Meanwhile, gleaming, folk-infused ballad Red, featuring Sean Lennon on guitar, shows off Merriweather’s diversity. This cross-genre appeal yields the power to generate some serious sales.
Featuring critically acclaimed soul sister Adele on Water and a Flame proves to be another wise move- her magnificent set of pipes compliment Merriweather’s husky, smoky tones perfectly.
It seems whoever Mark Ronson touches turns to gold. While Love and War may not become quite as massive as Amy Winehouse’s Mark Ronson-produced Back To Black, Merriweather’s debut is most certainly up there with the best in new school soul. A satisfying listen.