Songs for You, Truths for Me
James Morrison is unmistakenly a dedicated student of old-school soul. As a singer, his phrasing and dynamics bear a striking resemblance to the work of Stevie Wonder during his late ‘60s/early ‘70s heyday. On his sophomore album Songs for You, Truths for Me, Morrison applies his vocal skills to self-penned material that draws heavily upon Motown influences. The tunes here pretty much adhere to R&B conventions, albeit with enough confessions of personal angst to give things some personality. “The Only Night,” “Save Yourself,” and “Broken Strings” (the latter a duet with Nelly Furtado) accompany James’ tempered vocal anguish with vintage string and horn arrangements. Morrison radiates a positive vibe in “You Make It Real” and “Precious Love,” then recalls childhood disillusionment in “Once When I Was Little.” As U.K.-style soul revivalism, these tracks are hard to fault — though you wish Morrison would break out of character a little more often, as he does on “Love Is Hard,” a sparse acoustic tune boasting visceral lyrics sung with a minimum of affectation. Songs for You, Truths for Me is as classy as it is careful, showcasing a genuinely talented artist.