Reviewed by Andy Cooper
Jahmene was X Factor runner up in 2012, and this, his debut album, went straight to Number One in the UK upon release in July 2013. In personality and singing ability, he brings a refreshing change. In terms of musical content and creativity, less so. It's an album full of cover versions, with some surprising choices, but all dealt with in a rather bland manner by the producers and musical arrangers. Still, at least it doesn't distract from that rather unique voice. At least you think it's unique. . .until you hear his duet with mentor Nicole Scherzinger. Then you can only guess who's singing which part. It's uncanny! Jahmene has a silky smooth and high pitched voice, with a clean and open tone. There's a bit of Aaron Neville in there, and a bit of Luther Vandross, and a lot of Nicole! Kind of strange that Jahmene would get to sing a Bob Dylan and a Coldplay song then, but they work well enough to provide something catchy and vaguely familiar for his fans, if not a satisfying more in depth listening experience. Pretty much the only interesting moment from the backing music is when Stevie Wonder adds his harmonica to "Give Us This Day", but its all too brief. Back to Blandville after that. But most fans just care about the young man and his voice, and a singalong lyric. They will not be disappointed, and will hopefully be uplifted by the positive content and gentle faith in the songs too.
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|There is something extraordinary about Jahmene Douglas. It’s not just his soul skimming voice that reaches from the very core of him to cause tingles in your heart. The beautiful voice comes from a beautiful soul.|
When he first hit The X Factor screens last year there was a quietness about him, he seemed shy. But it wasn’t long before we realised that the former Asda shelf stacker was not so much shy as quietly strong. As he explains: ‘I know I seem shy, but singing was my therapy, my outlet, my release. It was how I could be just me. First of all it would be singing to Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley. Just singing at the top of my voice. It’s a way of zoning out and making you strong. The singing became my sanctuary when I was growing up.’
Jahmene has always related to great voices because his own great voice was always his creative outlet. ‘For a lot of the time I was home schooled. I would draw, and write poetry. I like whatever I could do to be creative but singing was my thing, it kept me calm.’
His first album is a collection of songs that he has made ‘jahmazing’ and flavoured with his own soul. Just hearing it you almost don’t have to ask which singer has influenced him most. ‘It would have to be Whitney Houston. Her interpretation was always incredible. She knew when to make it big. She knew when to make it small. I also love Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross.’
Appearing on Love Never Fails alongside Jahmene is his X-Factor mentor Nicole Scherzinger, performing the song they sang together during the final, The Greatest Love Of All: ‘Nicole knew this would be one of my favourite songs, and when she sang it with me on the final it was like singing with my big sister. She’s so incredibly talented. This song and Nicole ooze class.’
Also in a major coup Stevie Wonder appears alongside him on the album track Give Us This Day.