Daniel Merriweather
Love & War


3.0
good

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
July 28th, 2009 | 166 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Those expecting the male version of Back To Black will be disappointed. This is simply a good soul-pop debut that showcases potential.

It is an under-statement to suggest that fads do exist within the realms of popular music. One man who has almost single-handedly had success in beginning a fad of late is English producer Mark Ronson. Most literally, the genre could be titled soul-pop (or pop-soul if you like) and Ronson has had a hand in producing critically acclaimed albums which fall under this banner for the past 3 years now. In 2006, it was Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’. One year later, Ronson took artistic credit on ‘Version’, while in 2008 he unleashed Adele on to the masses with her debut ’19’.

In 2009, Ronson turns his attention to a male vocalist; Melbourne-born, but London-based crooner Daniel Merriweather. It seemed that the choice was rather obvious and natural, since Merriweather had performed vocal duties on ‘Stop Me’ (a cover of The Smiths’ 1987 hit ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’), the lead single from ‘Version’. Merriweather’s retro soulful voice fits exactly what Ronson would have been after and with the likes of James Morrison, Jamie Lidell and even Robbie Williams sliding into obscurity of late, the timing was perfect to strike.

And for the most part, Merriweather’s debut ‘Love & War’ strikes well. This is especially the case with its first half, which contains two UK Top 10 hits. Lead single ‘Change’ is a humdinger, with its hooky piano loop and Ronson’s trademark horns ably assisting the vocal contribution from (fellow Ronson signee) Washington DC rapper Wale, whose alternate verses surprisingly work a treat in combination with Merriweather’s distinctively differing voice. So much so in fact, that it is a mystery why its hip-hop leanings are not explored further elsewhere. Later, 2nd single ‘Red’ sees the Australian at his most controlled and emotional, especially during the orchestral chorus where his volume-raised pleas sound genuinely heartfelt.

Ronson is no dummy and he has a talented knack for knowing when to mix things up. This is apparent from the get-go as the distorted soft-rock guitars of opener ‘For Your Money’ leads into the groovy dancier vibe of 3rd single ‘Impossible. The problem here however, is that you can tell when he is shuffling the deck just for the sake of variety. That is definitely a forgivable trap that younger artists (Merriweather is 27) are prone to fall into on their debut and it really tells as ‘Love & War’ progresses. A few songs drag on into overlength, while many come off as inoffensive background music that your parents will enjoy. Part of the problem is the recurring lyrical theme of relationship break-ups, which over half the tracks could be classified as!

There is one exception to the latter half mediocrity fortunately, even if it is yet another break-up song. That comes in the form of track 10 ‘Water and a Flame’, where Merriweather raises his game and is perfectly accompanied by label-mate Adele. In a sense, it sums up the singer well, since he is well and truly at his best when paired with another vocalist. In addition to the two highlight tracks here, he also excels on (Aussie rapper) Phrase’s ‘Chains’. Of course, there are also lowlights contained on this album… ‘Live By Night’ is simply boring, while the unashamed thievery of The Mamas and The Papas ‘California Dreamin’’ during the chorus of ‘Could You’ is far too disconcerting to dismiss.

So when all is said and done, Daniel Merriweather’s ‘Love & War’ is a typically inconsistent debut LP. It has the impressive hit singles, the bland lowlights, and everything in between that will act as barometers for individual listeners. There is clearly talent here, since Merriweather’s voice sizzles at its best, and there are occasional flashes of clever & talented songwriting interspersed throughout the album’s 12 tracks. However, those expecting the male version of ‘Back To Black’ will be disappointed. Just take ‘Love & War’ for what it is; A good debut that showcases potential.

Recommended Tracks: Change, Water and a Flame & Red.



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user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The '&' symbol strikes again!

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2009


2688 Comments


You just had to fucking do it, bump my shit...bastard. I hate Aussies. Death to the Aussies! Mwuhahaha....oh and good review =) (Pop...meh)

Ask the mods to change & to and =*(

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sorry Marko. I spent a bit of time doing last minute modifications to the review, so didn't see your newie.

And yeah, I've just posted how the '&' symbol is the bane of Sputnik's existence in the forums.

AtavanHalen
July 28th 2009


17927 Comments


Where's the album details n shit?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Come on DavID, you should know by now about the bl00dy '&' symbol. I'm sure the mods will fix this soon.

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2009


2688 Comments


I make jokes Dave =)

Douchebag
July 28th 2009


3624 Comments


Good Job.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don't put the car in reverse now Marko. Everyone knows how you Cros have a temper & just wanna start killing stuff. ;-)

Nah, I know how it can get annoying being bumped off the top sometimes.

Croc, I fail to consider 2 words as sufficient feedback. Please stretch it out to 3 words. Add "pop = lame" or something like that.

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2009


2688 Comments


lol yes my lust for violence is uncontrollable, much like the Turks...(oops!)

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hehe. Ok, now I'm chucking the car in reverse & believe we should change subjects... How about those Albanians...

Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10198 Comments


oh HIM.

review is top-notch, obviously.

i actually enjoyed Red as far as i remember, but i saw him perform at a festival somewhere and he couldn't sing live. turned me right off him. i haven't heard Change.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No Adam, it's not HIM (I'm not a big fan of that band), it's Daniel Merriweather. I thought the question about the English weather in my other review would have gone through to the keeper. Haha.

Yeah, 'Red' is a real grower and I think most of his fans prefer that song to anything else on here.

It doesn't super surprise me that he wasn't great live. One line I cut out of my review was that he occasionally sings like he has a mouth guard in, or like he is chewing tobacco. He just seems more suited to the studio.

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2009


2688 Comments


lol I'm not Serbian so I have zero quarrel with them.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10198 Comments


Haha. Yeah, he couldn't hold/hit notes and it was pretty cringeworthy. It was at T4 on the Beach - terrible place to play, in fairness, horrible festival.

The weather is pretty decent right now, could do with a bit more cloud since it seems to favour us if bowling conditions are better. Bell in at #4 will be interesting to watch. Mostly just looking forwards to making it 2-0 though :p

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"T4 on the beach".... Sounds like they mis-placed Heathrow's 4th terminal. Hang on a tick, did you say beach? England doesn't have beaches!

I believe the weather will make for a merri occasion for the Aussies. Of course, Daniel could support both teams.

Douglas
July 28th 2009


9172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ah, I was about to attempt a review at this, though your opinion is more or less the same so I will focus more on the uni work then a review haha.
Good review also!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Serious? I didn't think this would be your thang Dougie. Then again, it really isn't mine either. What would you rate the album & which tracks most take your fancy?

And when you pass uni with flying colours, just remember it was all because I reviewed this before you did! Haha.

Douglas
July 28th 2009


9172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's not really, just no one had done one. Id give it a 2.5, best tracks would be the same as your recommended tracks. They are really the only catchy ones but Water and a Flame is ok to.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I'm trying to traverse everything around pop with my reviews right now. From dance/mash-up in Girl Talk to pop-rock with The Feeling. From indie-pop with The Temper Trap to soul-pop with Daniel Merriweather. I think next up will be some hip-pop. Hey, did I just name a new genre?

AtavanHalen
July 28th 2009


17927 Comments


Change is all funky n shit



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