From when we all first heard his audition, it was obvious that 17-year-old David Archuleta had standout pipes. After emerging from American Idol as runner-up, the primary question was whether that voice could be appropriately applied to contemporary pop music. In this first album, the answer is yes. The songwriting here is too often bland and uninspiring, but Archuleta's vocals are always stellar and sometimes truly soar. That is a good start on a promising career.
When Archuleta's Voice Takes Flight
As with much of contemporary pop music, the production here often seems a bit cluttered and overdone. The focus here should always be David Archuleta's voice. On a song like "Running," when his voice is given the opportunity to truly glide above the production, Archuleta's gifts are abundantly evident. The slightly fussy piano and percussion backing becomes irrelevant. "Desperate" stretches for currency with opening electronic effects, but ultimately his voice carries the song even when the drama of the production threatens to swamp him. The American Idol performance by David Archuleta that truly created goosebumps was his minimalist take on John Lennon's "Imagine." Unfortunately, too often here Archuleta's voice is crowded by other sounds instead of left alone to its simple beauty.
A Few Misguided Moments
Late in the album, as if to make sure we are still paying attention, some experimentation seems to begin, and it sounds like one of those American Idol mismatches of a country singer on disco night. "Don't Let Go" channels Coldplay but let's just say David Archuleta is not Chris Martin. "Your Eyes Don't Lie" uses whistling and strumming that made me imagine Archuleta strolling out in chaps and a cowboy hat. This track is best left forgotten. Soaring pop songs with a touch of R&B are truly the forte here.
Top Tracks on 'David Archuleta'
- "Touch My Hand"
Welcome to the Pop World, David
David Archuleta is already populating pop radio playlists with his hit single "Crush." There are a number of tracks here that could follow in its footsteps. The purity of a male voice like Archuleta's is a welcome addition in a pop music industry currently top heavy with female singers. However, better songs are what could lead him to a truly great album. Listen to the closing cover of Robbie Williams' "Angels" and imagine an album of David Archuleta's voice applied to truly top level songs.
Released November 2008 by Jive Records.