Words by Steven W.
Let’s go back for a second. 2006, American Idol’s Season Five. The final three were Katherine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, and Elliott Yamin. Taylor Hicks took top honors that year, beating out Katherine, who still received the coveted runner-up position. But the young, Richmond, Virginia-native, Elliott, was left with nothing but lots of publicity and a chip on his shoulder from thinking he should have won. With a substantial fan base (considering the amount of votes he had on the show: about 15 million), Elliott was destined to still release an album. Taylor and Katherine both had a buzz from their releases. Where was Elliott, we asked. Rumors leaked saying he was getting vocal lessons, that he was in jail, and even that he got braces or dental work. The latter is evident. But I think Elliott took his time to brew an exceptional CD that is now his self-titled entrance. I don’t know if we’d consider him “blue eyed soul””, Ã la Tom Jones, but the man can sing.
When you think of R&B, you think saucy vocals, lyrical substance, and banging ass beats. Elliott Yamin gets close to mastering all of these. Considering the genre switching mid-album, this might be labeled as a pop album. The up-tempo mood of the CD illustrates his commercial approach, mainly showing on tracks “Movin’ On”” and “Alright”. These two are likable pop songs that he sings with modesty. But these tracks aren’t even the shining points of the CD. Early on, he gives you a taste of his cool R&B swagger from the lost-love inspired “Wait For You.” Elliott sings this song effortlessly, and emphasizes why he has a proficient voice. He is crying in this song, I’m sure, as he pours out his heart about a love that won’t love back or come back. It’s sort of a desperate song. Think “Let It Burn” in reverse. Consensually, the beat reminds you of an Usher/JD combo, with the piano sample and the dirty South R&B-style beat (high hats and claps). This goes the same for the â€˜this song is for you‘ track “One Word”. The bouncy, crush/sprung song shows of his melody potential. It also gives you another taste of pop appeal and proves that he knows how to ride a beat.
As I said previously, Elliott’s CD touches other genres that show off his openness. “I’m The Man” has a dash of soft rock or alternative. But through it all, his soulful touch keeps the track grounded, so that the guitars and drums don’t over shine his skill. The live instruments actually put an image in your mind of a country scene. The cover he does of Donny Hathaway”s “A Song for You” gains him good and bad evaluations. Donny is a legend in his own sense, and it’s hard to remake classic songs with success nowadays. However, Elliott tests his exceptional voice and succeeds. He didnâ€˜t just sing, but added his own strut. Every note he breathes is on point and he makes the song his own. Mr. Hathaway would have been proud.
This album is laudable with an array of different production styles. And his voice saves the mediocre lyrics. Therefore, anyone who can handle a CD with singing can find a track they like. Honestly, Elliott Yamin is one of the better R&B albums released in 2007. Think of him as a Barbara Streisand and Bob Dylan love child. He has given some songs with sub-par lyrical content and class B-production a hell of a working. Just take note of his tactic: when all fails, just sing.
Donny Hathaway – A Donny Hathaway Collection
AZ-Final_Call-2004 AZ-Decade_(1994-2004)-2CD-2004 AZ-A.W.O.L-2005
Jeru_The_Damaja-Divine_Design-2003 Joss Stone – Soul Sessions 2003
Joss stone – Duets 2004
Joss Stone – Mind, Body & Soul 2005
Joss Stone – Introducing Joss Stone 2007