This is such a fantastic album I'm almost mystified it hasn't sold anywhere near as well as it deserves to ... until I remind myself how little promotion it's received. "Always gonna be an uphill battle" - how true, poor lad! Yes, this new sound is a different side to Joe than the one we were familiar with on XF last year but it also shows how versatile he is. The U-turn in musical style was a big risk but it could have paid off had Joe had the amount of 'smart' promotion that Olly Murs had. Lucky Olly being co-signed with Epic, who actually know how to market their artists effectively.
Added to the lack of timely promotion (including the debilitating lack of airplay for his single releases), the biggest complaint from many who voted for Joe last year on XF seems to be that his voice is lost in the overproduction of this album. Unfortunately, the samples (or 'snippets' as a previous reviewer referred to them) on Amazon don't do the album justice and when I first heard them, I feared his gorgeous voice would be submerged in the synthesised sound on almost every track. Being a big fan of Joe's, however, I was always going to support him by buying his music. What a difference when you hear the album tracks in full. For example, I thought I would hate 'Love Is War' as the sample on Amazon sounded nothing like him. In full, you can clearly hear his voice in the verses and I really like the track now. In fact, there is no track I skip over (even the Climb, while still my least favourite!). There is only one other album in my collection that gets the same complete hearing each time I play it. There is something for everyone on it, including a couple of ballads. For instance, for those who particularly loved his vocals on XF, 'Superman' is beautiful and has remained my favourite track. Another of my favourites is the cheeky, quirky 'Real Late Starter' which never fails to put a smile on my face. Have also played the album countless times and am still not sick of it! It's fun, upbeat and reflects the happy-natured, 19-year-old Joe perfectly.
Please please keep an open mind, put aside any possible prejudices about the XF association (which has been a double-edged sword for Joe anyway) and you might just find that this uplifting album becomes one of your favourites. Admittedly, this album doesn't fully showcase his amazing vocals (but neither are they completely disguised, which is the complaint from some who have only heard the samples) but it is still a fantastic album in so many ways. I firmly believe that Joe has so much more to offer, so it would be extremely sad if he were written off before he's even had a proper chance to get underway in the music business. Having seen him perform live many times, his vocals (and increasingly confident performances) never cease to impress me. If he gets the chance to make a second album, I'm hoping it will contain a couple of his acoustic performances to showcase that incredible voice. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy Joe's debut offering, which is by far the most played album in my collection!