“We live our lives by patterns and cycles,” says, erm, Idris Elba on the opening of John Newman‘s Revolve. Well, quite – Newman came out around the same time as Sam Smith and ended up a bit of a pound-shop version of him. His debut Tribute felt like it crumbled under all that ostentatious brass, though we can’t say a more electronic direction has helped him much. If we live by patterns and cycles, Newman might well be stuck in a rut.
That Newman trades off his powerful soul vocal is no bad thing – it’s by far the most incredible part of his arsenal, having a visibly rollicking time on All My Heart. But by the second track the over-production and overwrought vocals get a bit wearing. “Can you hear me now?” he asks on Something Special. Well, yes mate, we can. So can half the population dotted along the M1.
We almost feel bad for Newman, given he’s clearly a talented kid (Lights Down is a proper banger and a half), but he’s very much going to be consigned to the Jess Glynne and Ella Eyre brand of milennial UK pop. When everything is delivered with so much gusto, nothing sounds sincere or special; in the end Revolve ends up spinning on the spot and going nowhere.
Revolve by John Newman can be ordered here.