Album review: Elliott Yamin - Fight for love

Album review: Elliott Yamin - Fight for love
After losing out on American idol to Taylor Hicks (who had to be one of the most un-marketable contestants on American idol back in '06), Elliott managed to snag himself a record deal. Rightly so, the dude has a great voice. But whilst his debut showcased that he could out radio friendly songs and that his studio vocals were sharp - it was lacking on the whole. His follow up album Fight for love doesn't change the formula of his debut too much. But just enough that you can appreciate that it features a collection of good songs.

The entire album is glossed in a familiar sound which would be best pigeon holed as pop with a soulful vocal. Many of the songs throw the whole strummy guitars, piano and R&B drum patterns into the mix. You know, that same ol' shit sound that's risen to popularity and been run into the ground for the past couple of years. Whilst it'd be easy to dismiss the album for towing this line, it's hard to when the songs are so good and Elliott sings the absolute hell out of each and every one.

Every song on Fight for love sounds like something you might have heard before. "You say" is cliched. "Know better" has a very Usher "Moving mountains" tone about it with its chorus and laments of a love gone sour. And there are a bunch of others that ring with familiarity between what's been on radio other the past couple of years and what artists have cut for albums. But the songs stand on their own because they're catchy songs of substance and Elliott injects so much into the songs vocally. You never get the feeling that Elliott is trying to hop on anybodies bandwagon, but instead just work a sound which suits him. And why the hell not! It's not like anybody is trying to hear Elliott singing over some club beat in auto tune.

Something that is immediately obvious when you hear songs on this album is that Elliott can sing. He has a great tone to his voice, and a hoarseness which gives his voice a quality that makes you believe he's gone through it - enabling you to believe in what he's singing. The brilliant thing about this album however is that Elliott has been given a bunch of songs to match his vocals. His debut was decent enough, but it was boring because the songs on the whole didn't give him a great deal to work with. This time around Elliott has a collection of stand out songs, each one catchier than the last; putting his vocals to great use.

The weakest songs on the album funnily enough are the Stargate productions. The Stargate contributions where the stand outs on Elliott's debut ("One word" will always be that crack), but now they're the weakest links. They are not terrible songs by any means, but Elliott sounds like he's singing by numbers on each of them. And it's almost as though Stargate thought about giving Elliott something different, but decided to go for the lowest common denominator and give him the same recycled shit they've given to everybody else. Elliott buckles with "Cold heart", which sticks out (and not in a good way) because it's sound is so different to everything on the album. It just doesn't fit and should have been left in the recycle bin of somebodies studio MacBook. But 2 throwaway tracks and 1 bad track out of a potential 21 isn't bad at all.

It's a shame that all of the bonus tracks were made bonus tracks and that they're spread between iTunes, Amazon and Target stores. Because every single bonus track is hot. In fact, they're better than the songs on the standard track list. "Doorway" is just 3 minutes and 48 seconds of hotness. I love it! The lyrics, the beat, Elliott's vocals. Not a damn wrong thing with song except it wasn't made a single and placed on the album. The song also stanks of Brandy. It wouldn't surprise me if it was intended for her originally - because it really does sound a heck of a lot like a Brandy song. From the music, the tone, the lyrics, right down to how Elliott sings it. "Shelter" has Elliott swooning with a slow jam. It's a good song. But there's something that's difficult to take about Elliott on such a sexy slow jam. His voice doesn't really ooze sex on the beat, as some other male vocalists would do. But "Shelter" is still a hot song, and the vocal arrangements on the chorus sound amazing.

The one thing that I couldn't help but feel as I listened to this album was that it reminds me so much of Brandy. It might be just me. But Elliott works the songs like a male Brandy - evoking so much feeling into the songs, raspiness and also stupidly intricate vocal arrangements.

Fight for love is a good album from start to finish. Nice production. Slick vocal arrangements. Solid vocals on each and every track. But there's no one song which defines the album or makes it stick out. What Elliott really needed with this album was a couple of killer tracks that could do the distance as single choices and help both he and his album stick out and command notice. But instead we get an album of really nice songs, which will probably be forgotten about on a mass scale; and this is a shame.

The situation regarding the bonus tracks is also a complete mess. There are enough of them to compile another album. And to have spread them across so many different outlets was asking for them to just be downloaded. My advice to you: buy the album where ever, and just download the bonus tracks. Or buy the Japanese release which features 3 of the bonus tracks as part of the track list. (Elliott's people in Japan have the right idea!)

If you liked Elliott's debut album, then you will love this, as it is much better. A good effort for a sophomore album - if a little forgettable in the long run. But if you take a chance on this, you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how good some of the songs are and how good an album this is. It's just a shame it lacks those killer songs that help keep an album relevant.


Album highlights:
■ Let love be
■ Know better
■ Fight for love
■ Can't keep on loving you (From a distance)
■ You say
■ How do I know
■ Always
■ Good outweigh the bad
■ Shelter
■ Doorway J's fave
■ Forever in you

10 comments:

  1. I've been bumping songs from this album since '08. Elliott's voice is sick! Too bad he's stuck in Chile right now.

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  2. You know, being a fan of Elliot's, I can't believe I still haven't listened to this album. -_- I am so late on shit sometimes, it amazes me. And I'm the one who was bumping "Wait for You" way back in the day on your epic GameFaqs topic! *shakes head*

    I'm hoping on itunes right now and buying this damn album.

    BAM! Bought!

    Thank you for this review J!

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  3. Damn, this album is WAY better than his first album, and I liked his first album. It's hard to say what my favorite song is, but there are a few exceptional songs, while most of them are really good.

    I'd give it a solid 8/10.

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  4. First...I hope Elliott makes it back safely from Chile. Secondly, I bought this album about 9mos ago and seriously listen to it everyday. I get what you're saying about not having a defining song...it almost plays like a greatest hits collection. Several really good songs that make it difficult to decide which is best. The lyrics are stronger than the first album and very relatable. The stargate song "you" has really grown on me though....especially after seeing elliott sing it live on youtube. The bonus song "doorway" is awesome...and really ironic how the words about standing in a doorway to survive an earthquake played out in real life. I'm willing to bet that 97% of folks who own this album would agree that it has been among their most listened to.....and that they've sprung some extra bucks to get the bonus tunes from other retailers.

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  5. "Doorway" is one of my favourite songs. Start to finish hotness. Although my faves go through cycles. "Let love be", "Shelter"... well. My highlights are listed in the review :) "You say" my SHIT for a good while, and is the song I play most off of the album now. It's a shame it didn't get a release worldwide, because it could have been a hit for Elliott. Song had a video and everything, but it was for Japan only :(

    There isn't anything glaringly bad about 'Fight for love' at all. As you said, the lyrics are strong and relatable. But whilst it plays through nicely from start to finish, nothing really sticks out about the album or helps define it. Still a good album though. I think it was one of the best male artist releases of 2009.

    Good call on the "Doorway" situation too! I hope dude makes it out of Chile okay. Dude is a diabetic, so he needs to be careful not to go into a coma. The hospitals over in Chile must be over crowded beyond capacity... :(

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  6. I saw where he said he'd be good on insulin until he gets back to the states. Hope he's right. That shit aint no joke.

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  7. Right now, my favorite might be "Know Better". That chorus is crack!

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  8. What you think of "Don't Be Afraid"? I loooooooove the bridge!

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  9. HI Yall, I'm a close & great friend of Elliott Yamin & I know Elliott's first Freshman "Wait For You" was a brilliant album!!!! Elliott's second sophmore album "Fight For Love" is brilliant too!!!! His 2 Christmas Holiday albums Sounds of the Season The Elliott Yamin Holiday Collection & My Kind Of Holiday are also incredible albums!!!!! All his songs on all his albums & bonus tracks should be #1 hits!!!! No matter what Elliott sings is brilliant & Emazin!!!! OMG Elliott singing "A Song For You" accappela on his 2010 Acoustic Concert Tour is incredible!!!! No one in the world has a voice like Elliott!!!! Elliott is an ICON!!!! Thank you very much Elliott for a lifetime of brilliant incredible music that you can listen to for a lifetime!!!! I know Elliott will record many more albums to come & Elliott will be here for many years to come!!!!

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  10. HI, I give "Fight For Love" a 10 out of 10!!!!

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