James Morrison The Awakening
    • FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2011

    • Posted by: Stefanie Wray

    James Morrison's sound is as packaged and produced as Velveeta, but lots of people adore processed cheese. Perhaps as a result of being a new father, Morrison's latest venture, The Awakening, shows definite maturation from his last two albums; the sound is full, focused and optimistic, while the lyrics celebrate hallmarks of adulthood such as finally finding "a place to call your own" and telling his baby girl, "You only get one life/ so make sure you live it right."

    Album opener "In My Dreams" glides in with a straight forward contemporary soul melody complete with heart swelling strings. It becomes immediately apparent that this album is tea and honey for girls and women who long for an earnest, sensitive man to sweep them off their feet. Step aside, James Blunt and Maroon 5, here's your future husband with a voice soft as wool.

    Songs like, "Awakening" and "Forever" conjure the mommy anthem qualities of Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" with upbeat lyrics touting the beauty of life and an unrelenting commitment to his woman. He'll pick you up when you fall on "I Won't Let You Go" and he'll show you the person he can be on "Person I Should've Been." What modern woman doesn't love a man who says he's going to become a better version of himself?

    "One Life" is the album standout for me. The melody is infectious, the instrumentals build with expert restraint, and the lyrical message epitomizes the optimism and conviction that pervades the other tracks. "I've got one life and I'm gonna live it," Morrison sings as he progresses from reminiscing about the freedom and uncertainty of boyhood to the joys of being the father of a precious baby girl. He endearingly admits, "I won't pretend I always know/ I'll just follow my heart wherever it goes."

    After listening to "Right by Your Side," I've decided that I'm going to play this album for my (twice divorced) mom while we bond and bake Christmas cookies together. I know my eight year old sister will dance happily to "Beautiful Life" while I surreptitiously feed her a spoon full of chocolate chip cookie dough, just like my grandma used to do. (I'm feeling fuzzies just thinking about it.) For this reason, I think this album would make a great Christmas present for women who need their faith in love restored by a man who sings with unassailable sincerity.

    In the last song he assures us, "All around the world/ there is hope until the love's gone." A sentiment we all want to believe in.

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