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Lemar - The Reason
At a time when Simon Webbe is risking eating a kangaroo's bum on TV to keep himself in the spotlight, Lemar's achievements speak for themselves.
Since shaking off the ignominy of third place on Fame Academy, he has produced three fine albums in six years, and has even bagged a couple of Brit Awards along the way. Rumour has it he wrote 70 songs for this album - a staggering feat if true, but there's a danger that by writing so much, he's spread his skills too thinly.
Thankfully, this isn't the case. For the most part, The Reason is as solid a pop-soul album as you'll find and, while it does struggle to hit greatness, there is nothing across it that dips below decent.
In fact, it's so consistent that it's difficult to spot the highlights. Just when you're about to point at the title track's sturdy piano line or 'Wait Forever's r'n'b finery, the likes of 'Black Tide''s subtle sorrow or 'If She Knew''s aching soul force you to think again.
Nudging ever so slightly ahead of the pack are 'Weight Of The World' and 'Little Miss Heartbreaker', the former a slow-burner that bursts into a subtly explosive chorus, and the latter an adventurous slice of pop that pushes an intoxicating and unexpected mambo beat into the mix.
While The Reason does suffer from over-polished production that lessens its emotional blows and occasionally strays toward the edge of sterility, it still manages to deliver a clutch of songs capable of standing up to the glut of American stars flooding the UK soul scene.
Picture: PA Photos