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Daniel Powter - Turn On The Lights (Album Review)

Thursday, 12 July 2012 Written by Helen Grant
Daniel Powter - Turn On The Lights (Album Review)

Best known as a one hit wonder for smash hit 2006 single 'Bad Day', which played in the background as Alvin and his Chipmunks gathered nuts for the winter and American Idol losers sobbed farewell, it's fair to say Daniel Powter is in need of some fair press, and after a four year musical hiatus spent, by his own admission, surfing and fighting his demons, suffice to say he has his work cut out.

ImageThankfully, having laid solid foundations with a new label, and a cracking fourth studio album ‘Turn On The Lights’ and single ‘Cupid’ poised for release on 16th July, all is forgiven.

Defending his absence from the scene, the singer makes no bones about his allergy to the spotlight, admitting he struggled so much with fame the first time round, he turned to drugs and alcohol to block out the noise, despite 'Bad Day' notching up more than three million sales in the US alone, and sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks.

Repeated plays from this new effort reveals hidden depths from an individual long thought to have left the scene. It’s obvious that the Grammy nominated artist's star is rising again. Whether that's a good or bad thing for Powter remains to be seen.

The context might have been played before, many times over, but the songs are his own story, with soul-soaked narratives aimed straight at the heart. By blazing a trail with a torch of nostalgic Elton John-style bouncy piano melodies engineered for mass consumption, Powter has potted black.

Clean and sober for two years, the 41-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, who became a father for the second time in February, marks out his territory beautifully with lead track 'Cupid', a romantic, sentimental tribute to an elderly couple in a park, semi-formally dressed, dancing and laughing under a tree.

Some works of art are destined to be crowd-pleasers, and this is one of them.

"I was mesmerised," Powter recalls of the 'sweet romance'. "I felt all this stuff churn in me, and was like: 'This is what it's all about."

Such was his inspiration, he went home and penned a slew of melancholy lyrics like: "They don't make a pill that can give me the thrill when you look at me" and "It's quite clear to me that we were always meant to be" resulting in a befitting accompaniment to a flute of champagne in a rowdy chain pub.

If a one year sabbatical touring Native American Indian powwows doesn't help you heal from heartbreak/obsessive desire, repeated rounds of 'Come Back Home' and 'If Only I Could Cry' will help you cling to the memories.

"For better or worse, I meant every last word" ('If Only I Could Cry') and "I see your face on every stranger that walks by" ('Come Back Home') set the pace for "Some call it fate / They say it's meant to be / You meet that someone who fits you perfectly" ('The Day We Never Met') "I think I fell to pieces the moment I first saw you / I'm nothing but a shell of a man" ('Crazy All My Life') and "You got under my skin / The moment you walked in / You belong to me / It's you and no one else" ('Selfish').

"With everything that's going on in the world today - wars, economic crisis, people losing their jobs, losing their homes," says Powter "I wanted to strip down all the bullshit and write about hope, coming home, love ... the days of decadence are gone."

Time will tell whether 'Cupid', 'Crazy All My Life' or one of the other eight impressive tracks on this catchy album makes Powter more than a one-hit wonder; lightning can and does strike twice. Whatever the outcome globally, my guess is that lead track 'Cupid' will be a smash here in the UK this summer and coming to a movie near you soon.

Daniel Powter will release new album ‘Turn On The Lights’ on 16th July through UEG/EMI.

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