* Prices may differ from that shown
I bought this album as someone who quite liked Shayne Ward, but I was not overly impressed with this second album. If you have read my review of his first album (or anyone else's review for that matter), you will probably know that it was rather top-heavy with ballads that put me in mind of Westlife. This second album is an attempt to go more contemporary, but at times, it fails miserably.
1. No U Hang Up
This was released as a double A-side single along with If That's OK With You. This is the better track of the two, although it is still rather annoying. It is an attempt to be a pop/r 'n' b number but at times it is spoilt by the lyrics that sound a bit like a kid has written them. One such example of this is "There was something about your voice / Anything you say makes a beautiful noise" in the first verse.
This was also released as single in the UK. It is a nice sounding ballad and I do like this track, although the very high notes towards the end are irritating (especially as one goes on forever). For me, this is one the better tracks on the album.
3. If That's Ok With You
This is along similar lines to No U Hang Up, although the lyrics are even worse. One example is "I love the way you look with your make-up/ I had a girl before we met but we broke up". I will admit that these kind of lyrics make me cringe somewhat so I have never been able to get into this track. One very annoying feature of this track is the high pitched chipmunk style vocals in the chorus. I think that this is Shayne's voice distorted, but either way it is not cool!
This is another track in which Shayne's high vocals make an appearance. This is quite a low tempo track and quite laidback, although I wouldn't call it a ballad as it is about moving on from a relationship that has left him broken. I quite like this track, but it is not one of my favourites on the album.
5. Stand By Your Side
I have to admit that I couldn't even remember this track when I looked at the tracklisting and had to go and play it. It is a mid tempo track and one of the album's attempts to be up-to-date, although it doesn't appeal much to me. It reminds me a bit of another track but I can't think of which one!
6. Until You
This is a ballad, and one of my favourite tracks on the album. This is probably because he doesn't overuse the higher range of his vocals on this track as I tend to find that irritating on other tracks.
7. Some Tears Never Dry
This is another track that I do like, but do not play much. The song is somewhere between mid tempo and up tempo with a quite repetitive but energetic backing track. For me, this is one of the better tracks on the album.
8. Melt The Snow
This is probably my favourite track on the album and in my opinion, should have been one of the singles instead of the double A-side. It is a mid tempo track with quite a repetitive backing track behind it. I could live without the chipmunk style "wooo" sounds in the background as they do get annoying! I have to admit that I never noticed those before I came to review the track though, but I will be forever listening out for them now!
9. Tangled Up
This is another track that I like. It is uptempo (probably one of the most uptempo tracks on the album) and has a dancey backing track. I can't make out half the lyrics though and have had to look them up to be able to follow it.
10. Just Be Good To Me
This is a cover of a track that seems to have been covered by lots of other people . It is mid tempo track that never seems to go anywhere. I don't think that Shayne adds anything new to the track.
11. U Got Me So
Shayne's high vocals make a reappearance on this track. I find the backing track quite irritating on this track. This track is mid tempo for the most part, although it speeds up a bit just before the chorus.
12. You Make Me Wish
This is another track that I couldn't immediately bring to mind when I reviewed the tracklisting. It is another uptempo track, with an energetic dancey backing track. I'm not very keen on this track as I find it quite repetitive.
13. Tell Him
This is another of the uptempo tracks on the album. The lyrics aren't the best but this is one of the more listenable tracks, and is quite modern.
My Overall Verdict
I criticised Shayne's first album for being too top-heavy with ballads and sounding too much like Westlife, but I don't think that this album is a lot better. While there is a definite attempt to bring his sound more up-to-date, most of the tracks do nothing for me.
My personal favourites are "Breathless", "Until You" (both ballads) and "Melt The Snow" (mid tempo). Most of the more uptempo tracks don't appeal to me. As I was rather unwhelmed by this album, I would not recommend buying this. Most of the tracks will probably be available on Youtube so my advice would be to listen to them there, make up your mind on whether you like any of them and download the individual album tracks on iTunes, as most of the album is pretty average.
Rather suprisingly Shayne Ward has not done too bad for himself, his fist single Thats My Goal sold nearly a million and his debut album was a huge success selling 200,000 copies in the first week. His success is due to him winning the second series of the still on TV today X Factor beating Andy Abraham. His debut record was panned by some critics and applauded by the odd one.
Lets get it out of the way - i personally dont believe Shayne Ward can sing THAT well, he's no Will Young for, he's Robbie/Justin rather than a vocalist - he looks like a popstar mainly because of his bald head!! ;) and he has been quite successful more successful that Leon Jackson who hasnt matched his success as winner with record sales, but he hasnt beaten Mega seller Leona Lewis who around the world is a huge star.
The album features my fave summer song of last year IF THATS OK WITH YOU, i think it's catchy and in comparison to everyone else i atcually like the chipmunk voice in the song, i atcually think BREATHLESS is the best thing he's every done the song is really good, his delievery is OK but i thin that song is superb with a brillant haunting chorus you just keep humming over and over. NO U HANG UP at first i thought was pathethic and with an awful video as well it just wasnt brillant, i think it's catchy but i hate the video and its message.
The album also features various other tracks never made as singles for him like DAMAGED which i think should have been a single and the absolutely superb TELL HIM written by Leona's Bleeding Love writer. The rest of the tracks are rather HIT AND MISS if you ask me nothing too good or bad either, they're just very forgetful and to be honest i couldnt even listen to some of the tracks i hate that vocoder nonsense they put on most songs at some points i was yelling just sing the bleeping song! and sometimes just after the Middle 8 shayne finds it compulsarly to do AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH and then the chorus.
Overall i would rate it average there is 6 good tracks on the album for sure, the rest are hit and miss. To be honest if this wasnt an X Factor winner i wouldn't touch this with a barge pole, i atcually thought the first album was better but 6 songs are brillant (the singles mainly). I think Shayne is currently struggling with an image and is intimidated by the success of Leona and that is why he is spending so long making a new album, we shall wait and see - my advice wait for this to hit the bargain bins (it might already have) but having said that it went on to sell 400,000 copies which is not too shabby in honesty but i still think its not brillant in any way.
Before I go further into this review, I should level with you. I do not really listen to this kind of music... ever. But after a bit of a telling off for only reviewing certain genres of music, I have relented and decided to review something which is somewhat alien to me. This actual album review was specifically requested by a rather persistent CIAO member who doesn't appear to be a fan of my current taste in music.
(If some of what I say is a bit critical or upsets his fans on this site, I do apologise, but I'm just trying to review this honestly. Don't say I didn't warn you.)
The way I have always seen it, Shayne Ward was 'one for the girls' so as of yet, I havent heard much of his music apart from what I have seen on the Television. He achieved notoriety by winning the second series of UK talent contest 'The X-Factor.' He hails from Clayton near Manchester, coincidentally, very near to where I was born actually. (Irrelevant fact for you there.) Shayne Ward tends to sing Soul/Pop ballads, usually with a romantic content, which I must admit, isn't normally my first choice for music. Breathless is his second album and I haven't listened to it yet, nor have I heard his previous album, although I'm just about to press play... here goes...
=== The Album ===
The album features Shayne in a variety of poses, etc inside although I think once again, this may be for the legions of lusting women in his fanbase. For me, its not exactly riveting cover-art or decor but I don't believe you buy an album for what it's case looks like. Its all about that little round disk that spins and makes noise come out when add it to your stereo.
[Track 1 - No U Hang Up]
A slow drum-machine R&B beat opens the album with Shayne singing away with his calmest of dulcet tones. My problem with this kind of music, is I struggle to relate to the lyrics, as he is constantly serenading a generic/specific woman. The lyrics aren't the best, and the beat is quite samey all the way through. This is definitely not my kind of song, it's a bit too R&B bubblegum to keep me happy.
The chorus dips into a bit of harmonising although the drumbeat is same from start to finish in the track. I could tolerate this in the background, but I don't think I will choose to listen to it ever again.
[Track 2 - Breathless]
This is the album's title track and second single so I'm hoping for something a little better here. The beat is again a slow, clappy drum loop and Shayne drifting the melodic lyrics over it. The lyrics are same again, declaring his undying love. Listening to it, I feel like he's singing it to me. I'm sorry Shayne, your not my type mate, I'm afraid. The chorus has a little more to it here, but the track has no charisma from my point of view. He hits a couple of difficult notes during this song which , in fairness, do illustrate his ability to sing, but the lack of content in the lyrics, so typical of this genre is leaving me a bit disappointed.
[Track 3 - If Thats OK With You]
Bit of a tropical drum vibe going on here, a bit more on offer here. The lyrics are along the same vein, but its hardly fair to spend all the review bitching about the same thing. The song is more vibrant than the first two. To be honest, I think I have heard it before, the song isn't anything new, not radical at all but at least I feel like it could be dancefloor worthy, admittedly, I would have to be very drunk or I'd never be caught dancing to it I'm afraid. I'm struggling to rate this track, I want to give it a rating quite higher than the previous two tracks but don't want to go too far for fear of taking my other reviews out of context. OK.
[Track 4 - Damaged]
The beat is a little reggae style mixed with a slow but powerful drum loop. It seems to me that every song is going to from a guy to girl style so I will stop mentioning the lyrics for now unless something changes. The chorus lacks any real movement, the drums just drop a bit heavier. A very chart-friendly song, I can see what it has to offer, but I personally feel that I don't need this kind of music. It's like trying to sell a catapult to the US Military, I have much more preferential music I would choose over this. I just caught myself tapping my foot to the drumbeat, so it can't be ALL bad, but I'm not a big fan of this one.
[Track 5 - Some Tears Never Dry]
The isolated drum beats here make the track seem a little different, but in truth it more of the same again. There is a backing vocal over most of the track which either makes up the chorus or echoes the verses but I'm really not feeling the vibe of this track. Not much happening. The beat reminds of me of a distroted, slow version of Liberty X 'Just a Little'in the chorus. For the record I don't like the song much either. Not good news for Shayne's fifth track as far as this review is concerned.
[Track 6 - Until You]
You can tell the mood is switching here, a proper ballad number now. Slow almost non-occuring drums and a very mellow guitar/synth beat. The vocals get a bit more commited throughout the track, but aside from this, it doesnt change much at all from the first second to the last. I'm falling asleep to this one, sort of good, but its partially due to boredom aswell, sorry.
[Track 7 - Stand By Your Side]
A nice bit of piano, a little reminiscent of 'Back to Black' by Shamey Winehouse.I quite like this little sample but the rest of the song is a bit dull, a little electro. The piano is wearing a bit thin now so I'm just waiting for Shayne to interest me. I don't know many guys who would have listened this far into the album. It seems to me that this music isn't intended for 90% of the world's male population. Which begs the question... 'why was I asked to review this...?' I don't want to be nasty about a fellow mancunians work, he clearly is a good singer, but I can't find many positives with the actual content of the album. It's very unremarkable.
[Track 8 - Melt The Snow]
There is a weird guy going 'wooooo' in the background every few lines, probably the best part of the tune, it's making me crack a smile anyway. The lyrics are once again boy-to-a-girl but they are disguised the tiniest bit here in places. The melody and harmony of the vocals are fine, but the tune is ineventful for me. First and only time will listen to this track.
[Track 9 - Tangled Up]
Oh Sweet Jehova!! The beat is quick!! A bit discofunk meets daft punk in the actual tune. The delivery of the lyrics are a bit more 70's and for the first time, it doesn't feel like I'm being punished listening to it. Lets not go too far ahead though, it is still a little contrived but this track breathes some much needed life into the album. The bassline is catchy, definitely one of the best tracks on the album as of yet, but that's not too difficult. It's like being the fastest snail in the garden, not a grand achievement really. better though. I can't see why this wasn't the single.
[Track 10 - Just Be Good To Me]
Another dubby reggae beat, feels a bit out of place. The track still reaks of Rhythm and Blues. The beat is repetetive, and when it breaks it doesn't help much. There is also a sort of unecessary, ineffectual DJ scratching occasionally. Not the worst track on the album, the bassline saves the day again.
[Track 11 - U Got Me]
A kind of 80's sample and very crunky drum beat with Shayne singing like Justin Timberlake. Seems like a bit of a knock off to me. Like JT but without the top quality Timbaland beat, feels like an imitation, a glaringly obvious one. This was the albums third single and I think I have just stumbled upon the reason why. Marketing!!
[Track 12 - You Make Me Wish]
I can see the finish line, can smell the guitars, can feel the hip-hop basslines and drums... unfortunately, not on this album, from next door in fact. Shame. Anyway, this track is slightly pacier than the ballads, but not as fast as the top-tempo tracks. The guest vocalist on the chorus sings a lot like rapper 'Nelly although I seriously doubt that it is him on the track. The synth adds a little drama to the tune and the drums are a little more fine-tuned and dancey but the track is still a bit bland.
[Track 13 - Tell Him]
It the last track, starts with a suspensful piano... I smell a final ballad. A well known sample here, can't quite place where its from. Destiny's child vibe is what I'm getting, plus a classical score. The beat is well-produced in comparison to the rest of the album. The lyrics have been getting to me for about 8 tracks and I've been dying to write some more about them, even though I promised not to. Ah never mind!! They are just the same thing being said over again, which makes me feel like the content of them is unimportant. I just feel that this music is made for a particular market... therefore I find it ironic that it should be put into the 'soul' music category.
Not the worst track in the world, or on the album even, the beat gives it an extra mark, but I'm glad its the last one.
=== Overall ===
I never normally listen to this kind of music and I've just remembered why. I'm a fan of good lyrics in music, I like to know that the artist has an interesting viewpoint, something unique to say but I have heard this stuff a million times before. The album is neatly presented, but it gets no further than background usic with me. The lyrics are generic and the vocal style follows the same formula in the majority of songs. Drum beat first, sample soon after, two slow verses from Shayne sandwiching the first chorus, then a slightly more committed chorus, a final perkier verse, then the cries of the backing vocalists over Shayne straining the final chorus with all his might. Every Time. If the track has a low score in my review, it probably follows this music by numbers formula. it's very uncomplex and unfortunately, is definitely not for me.
I feel bad, this review was written as a request, but I can't lie. I just dont connect with this album, and couldn't find many other guys who could either. Love songs are simply designed to be sung to women, bought by women. It's difficult to relate to what the song is saying and the topic never changes. I understand their is a big market for this kind of jusic but i feel like it is sold more on Shayne's image than his talent, which is in some way a shame for him, but he is making money so I doubt he'd care too much.
This is not the worst example of its genre, but the album is uneventful, to few peaks, too many dull tracks. I'm not trying to be closed minded, I listened to every second of it, but I just could not enjoy it. Not my cup of tea, time for a real cup of tea I think, that was tough.
Apologies to any fans who disagree, especially to the person who requested I write this. I didn't mean to be so harsh, it just comes out sometimes.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 No U Hang Up
3 If That's OK With You
5 Some Tears Never Dry
6 Until You
7 Stand By Your Side
8 Melt The Snow
9 Tangled Up
10 Just Be Good To Me
11 U Got Me So
12 You Make Me Wish
13 Tell Him