Love & War

by: Daniel Merriweather

If you wanted to insult Daniel Merriweather’s debut album, you could call it Back to Black without all the personality. Like Winehouse’s game-changing album, Merriweather’s is also drenched in Mark Ronson’s nostalgic production with all its Sam Cooke spirit and '60s R&B sophistication. The big difference here is that the Australian, twenty-something Merriweather comes with no punkish attitude, and once you take away the appearance from rapper Wale, plus the slacker heartbreak number “Getting Out” (“And now I can’t get my ass off the couch because of you”) you’re left with a retro-soul effort that won’t disrupt mom and dad’s date night. This more traditional throwback is more rewarding than it may seem, as Ronson’ s borrowing from the past is respectfully crafted here with warm strings and easy, swaying beats perfectly complementing this singer’s full-bodied voice. The key track, “Impossible,” is somewhere between a Bond theme and a deep cut from Terence Trent D'Arby, while the infectious “Change” gives the album just enough flash and punch with its easy hip-hop flavor. Big ballad “Red” sounds like the best number found on any given Hugh Grant rom-com soundtrack while “Not Giving Up” is a well-executed, uptempo fingersnapper that should make Jamiroquai jealous. If you’re looking for a non-confessional alternative to Back to Black that won’t take over the room, Love & War will serve that soulful purpose. ~ David Jeffries

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