Bleu (nee William James McAuley) is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter whose biggest commercial successes have come from album tracks placed with Disney stars Selena Gomez ("I Won't Apologize") and the Jonas Brothers ("That's Just the Way We Roll"), singer/One Tree Hill television star Kate Voegele ("Say Anything"), and indie-rock and pop acts Boys Like Girls, Jon McLaughlin and Ace Enders. It's a resume that prepares listeners for the craft he puts into the details of his songs, but not the soulfulness he puts into his own projects.
Bleu's come a long way from the major label machinations that surrounded his 2003 debut, Redhead, retaining the sound quality afforded a major label artist while shucking off the lyrical and stylistic limitations necessary to market a commercial, mainstream property. His new songs are more personal, and heavily laced with adult thoughts of mortality that wouldn't click with the tweener set. Of course, Bleu still writes great pop melodies, as he does for the stream-of-consciousness verses of "Singin' in Tongues," the celebratory funeral party of "Dead in the Morning," and the ex-pat's ecstatic anthem "B.O.S.T.O.N.," but they're in service of lyrics and emotions that make a lasting impression.
Within his performances you can hear the buoyant rock `n' roll of Billy Joel, the croon of Nilsson ("How Blue"), the soulfulness of Van Morrison ("In Love With My Lover") and the melodic complexity of the late Kevin Gilbert ("Evil Twin"). He pairs a lovely soul arrangement of strings, horn and tympani with the surprisingly coarse lyrics (and all-in vocal performance) of "When the ---- Hits the Fan." Bleu adds love songs and philosophical meditations ("Ya Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar"), jauntily scoring with strings and twinkling harpsichord ("Everything is Fine"). This is a terrifically accomplished release that's written, played and sung with deep emotion and seemingly effortless polish. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]