Freddie Matthews writes from London: Tottenham born singer Lemar was first introduced to the music-buying public ten years ago at just 24. Lemar became one of the British talent show pioneers when he finished 3rd on the first TV series Fame Academy. The eventual winner David Sneddon, unlike Lemar, is no longer recording and releasing music in his own right. In saying that however David Sneddon is a successful songwriter and part of a collaboration called Nexus and has recently written for the likes of Newton Faulkner, Greyson Chance, Eliza Doolittle, Dionne Bromfield, Nicole Sherzinger, Matt Cardle, Morten Harket, Hurts and also the song National Anthem which was featured on Lana Del Rey’s multi-million seller Born To Die album. It just goes to show that there ‘can’ be a living to be made after so called ‘celebrity’ TV fame and not just a future job working at McDonalds.
Unlike so many of the other failed TV singing contestants, R&B singer Lemar’s singing career has stood the test of time and Invincible is his 5th studio album. In these 10 years Lemar has sold an impressive 2 million plus records and gained seven top 10 singles. Add to that 2 Brit Awards and 3 MOBOs and you have not a bad career to date.
Invincible is Lemar with a huge point to prove as this time round he’s no longer under Sony’s wing and he’s going it alone. Of course this move could be seen in two ways: either Sony have dumped him as he’s no longer in contract or he wants full directorial control and deliberately hasn’t signed a deal with anyone else.
Invincible is yet to achieve the sales success of any of his previous 4 albums with his Time To Grow, from 2004, proving the most successful to date.
This is Lemar’s first new studio album for four years, despite Sony going for a final cash-in with Lemar – The Hits which was released in 2010 but of course it was a mere compilation and included just 2 new songs as well as a collaboration with JLS.
This new album is deeper than anything that’s gone before for Lemar. However I struggle to see this album as a work of art, more like a few reasonable songs and a bunch more that struggle to keep up. The moments of greatness include the title track, Invincible. It starts off like a Snow Patrol or Coldplay song with drive and a sweeping verse and chorus, like nothing that’s come before from Lemar but unfortunately no other track on this album comes anywhere close to this inspirational production. Track 1, The First Time is also promising until it’s ruined by a poor production of drumming that sounds like something from Simple Minds circa 1986. Seriously I could have produced this track better myself.
The songs that do nothing for me are: Beautiful – because, like a cow pat, it really isn’t any form of beauty whatsoever. It’s over-produced and ‘try hard’ which is a shame for Lemar because he still has a wonderful vocal. I’m also not keen on Huricane. It reminds me of the cheesy lyrics you’d expect to hear on a song by The Wanted or JLS. Is Lemar really this desperate?
My advice to Lemar would be that he’s trying too hard to sound like everyone else in the UK Top 40. Gone is the cool from songs like 50/50, If There’s Any Justice and Dance (With You) and instead we have a man with confused direction and no guiding influence from a major record label but then there’s this beautiful vocal just waiting for that one perfect song to reignite his music career.
Listen to Merry Go Round. It’s one song that might just be a future hit from this – the newest Lemar album. If only he still had a major label to back him up.