Its five years since the world first became aware of Lemar, despite the potential shortcomings of a career borne of a reality show (Fame Academy) he has shaken off such dodgy auspices in order to become something of a leading light in the UK’s pop/soul market. With three top ten albums to his name and sales in excess of two million he’s shown he is something of a force to be reckoned with.
The latest album ‘The Reason’ shows little sign of his career hitting a downturn anytime soon. Lemar’s voice was something that you could never question and his delivery here does a great deal to reinforce that. Right from the track’s eponymous opener he’s on form with effortless
For me though one of the highlights of the album comes in the production. Regardless of what you might think of the songs they have been put together with a real warmth and precision but then the names behind the desk on this release all have the right pedigree including the likes of Jim Beanz, Soulshock and Jim Johnson. Between them these are luminaries who have worked with the collective likes of Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, Amy Winehouse and Fugees to name a few.
I thoroughly expected to be underwhelmed by this release, I’m not an aficionado of modern soul by any stretch of the imagination but the album heaps no small number of surprises on the listener. Its just so well put together and is positively crawling with potential singles. Tracks like ‘Trust Me’ and ‘Over You’ have more than a touch of Gnarls Berkley about them.
There is a quite unusual moment in the shape of the slightly militaristic love song ‘Mayday’ with its strangely surreal ‘shot down killed in action’ narrative, with what on occasion feels like a graphic lyric works in the strangest sense when it is vocalised with such a soulful rendition.
As a whole this is an album that deserves to cement Lemar’s reputation further. Its clear that a great deal of work has gone into putting this collection of songs together, add to this the choice of producers has helped to put that extra bit of polish on the songs that might not have otherwise been evident. Definitely a surprise offering for this reviewer but a welcome one at that.