It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard anything from Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Powter. After his Grammy-nominated, mega-hit ‘Bad Day’ back in 2005, Powter looked sure to disappear from the music scene just as quickly as he had appeared, even though in actual fact, ‘Bad Day’ was from his self-titled second album. He has admittedly failed to replicate the success of ‘Bad Day’; nevertheless, Powter has soldiered on and now brings us his fourth studio album, called Turn On The Lights.
The album is a short affair, coming in at only 10 tracks in length with a mere 36-minute runtime. Shorter albums aren’t always a bad thing though, since many longer albums suffer from out-staying their welcome, padded out with forgettable, or worse, just plain awful songs. Turn On The Lights is produced by music veteran Howard Benson, who has worked with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw and All-American Rejects.
Powter’s fourth album opens with its lead single, ‘Cupid’ (also out today; video embedded below), a song dripping in carefree, summery vibes, something you could hear Jason Mraz singing. Its jaunty melody and catchy chorus mark this out as a wise choice for his first single and a definite album highlight.
The toe-tapping appeal is continued through the next two tracks, ‘The Day We Never Met’ and ‘Crazy All My Life’, the latter in particular being another highlight. ‘Crazy All My Life’ is very much like Maroon 5 at their funky-pop best, complete with frantic guitar strumming and higher-register vocal flourishes akin to Maroon 5′s Adam Levine.
With fourth track ‘Come Back Home’, the album changes gear to a more melancholic, introspective mood, pondering the necessity of friendship during the hard times, something Powter is familiar with, having gone through a period of drink and drug abuse after becoming overwhelmed by the new-found fame that came with the massive success of ‘Bad Day’. The track features a great vocal performance from Powter, in particular over the chorus, where he shows off his vocal range as well as power.
This darker tone continues through the subsequent tracks, only relenting when we get to the playful, if slightly naff, penultimate track, ‘Birthday Suits’. The subdued tone, however, returns to close the album with the final track, ‘What I Meant to Say’. Unfortunately, this change of gear after ‘Crazy All My Life’ dominates the album a bit too much, making the second half of the album a bit of a depressing slog, with the sound of the tracks bleeding into one another, leading to a rather forgettable clump of songs.
There are certainly great songs here, especially when Powter is writing about happier subjects. That’s not to say introspective songs are a bad thing, indeed, with his past struggles, Powter certainly has deeper places that he can draw upon to make his songs more honest. However, too many on one album and the net result makes it a rather sombre listen and one that you’ll likely only play once in a while when in the right frame of mind, rather than an album you would listen to repeatedly.
Go Get It: ‘Cupid’ / ‘Crazy All My Life’
Forget It: ‘If Only I Could Cry’