The winner of X Factor 2009, Joe McElderry, has had a rocky few years. His début single – a cover of Miley Cyrus’ ‘The Climb – reached number 1, but subsequent singles failed to match this success, ultimately leading to his departure from Syco Records. He has since impressively won the second series of Popstar to Opera Star, releasing two diverse albums off the back of it. Now the vocal powerhouse returns with his new album, Here’s What I Believe.
The first thing to strike us about the new album is that it is incredibly ‘Joe’. The singer has stamped his mark on every song and you can feel the pride ooze from each one, including the covers. This isn’t to say it’s not occasionally predictable, however, you can certainly tell he did it his way this time, putting into practise all the things he’s learnt thus far in his career.
The real selling point is McElderry’s vocals. The majority of Here’s What I Believe is executed exquisitely. He has really grown into an established sounding popstar and there is a real beauty to his voice. His vocals have experienced growth and direction and appear powerful and flawless throughout this release.
The album opens with the lead single of the same name. Co-penned by the artist himself, this is where McElderry excels with this release. The lyrics for this and the other tracks he co-wrote – ‘Your Voice’and ‘What Have I Done?’ – are clearly personal to Joe, and are delivered with emotion and passion. ‘Here’s What I Believe’ is a mid-tempo start to the album, containing your usual string-enthused verses and choir-heavy chorus. The ballad ‘To Have a Broken Heart’ is a lovingly tender track and is a credit to McElderry. He is at his comfort zone, hitting the falsetto notes with ease and grace, delivering a highly emotive break-up track with maturity.
There are also a few, rather well known cover tracks on the album. The risk with covers is whether to keep it faithful to the original or put your own, completely new stamp on it; both can be heavily criticised. McElderry has gone for the former, safer option, with a reasonable amount of success. ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ is an album highlight; the song lends itself expertly to his voice and it is both beautiful and charming. The late Whitney Houston’s final single, ‘I Look To You’, we are happy to say, is equally well produced, sung with typical McElderry charm. Sadly, the rendition of Demi Lovato’s ‘Skyscraper’ is weak in comparison and slightly too high, even for Joe to tackle.
The overall package is tied up with maturity and beauty. The album never moves away from the slightly sombre, ballad level, but this isn’t entirely unexpected since, while on X Factor, Joe really shone when performing a ballad – clearly his forte. Both the covers and the original songs are well and truly the artist’s own, and it is an album that shows development and experience. McElderry’s voice is to die for and, although there are a few missteps, when he gets it right you certainly know it. It is unlikely to be everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely a fantastic chill-out album and favourite of housewives up and down the country.
Go Get It: ‘To Have A Broken Heart’ / ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’
Forget It: ‘Skyscraper’
To hear a bit more about the background to the album from the man himself, check out our recent interview with Joe.