I suppose it was inevitable with the extraordinary wave of singer-songwriters crashing over the pop charts that we would experience the bad as well as the good. Daniel Powter's megahit "Bad Day" is a gust of pop fresh air, but, unfortunately, the rest of the album seems to come from an entirely different place. Too much faux white-boy soul and amateurish lyrics add up to a mostly unpleasant mess.
Vocals That Grate Then Veer Near the Unlistenable
The return of high-pitched male vocals to the pop mainstream via James Blunt is an acquired tast for many, but the acquisition is made much easier through Blunt's precision and obvious sincerity in presentation. Daniel Powter, on the other hand, seems to often echo Blunt's style with a lackadaisacal air and lack of control that occasionally is nearly unlistenable. "Song 6," which kicks off the album, in particular seems to blandly echo James Blunt with a thin reediness that quickly wears even more thin. It's difficult to figure out what was happening on "Suspect" which sounds a bit like the sound engineer was strangling Macy Gray. Bland quickly morphs into irritating.
Breezy Tales of Recreational Drugs and Sex
Perhaps Powter is sarcastically aiming for aging baby boomers looking back on their days of wilder abandon, but the lyrics on the Daniel Powter album are infused with aimless or whiny tales of one-night stands and drug use. "Jimmy Gets High," an obvious attempt at a centerpiece for the album, presents something about the pain of being a rock star and seeking solace in drugs. However, it comes off as incessantly whiny and the lyrics are so obtuse it's hard to say whether Powter wants to head off with Jimmy in the drugged-out haze or Jimmy is just a victim of how much we hate our rock stars. Elsewhere, Daniel Powter tosses out multiple references to cheap sex without commitment minus coherent, serious commentary. It all adds up to a caustic aura of laziness.
Did Daniel Powter Have a "Bad Day?"
When you make it to track 3 on the album, the huge hit single "Bad Day," it sounds as if the song is an outtake from another album. Powter sings in a pleasing middle register and the lyrics take on a reassuring, comforting, tone that is personal in the best tradition of singer-songwriters. It's difficult to figure out what happened with the rest of the album, but, for now, stick with the single, assume Powter had a bad day, or 3, or even 60, and hope for a significant change on the next album.