With a neat sense of timing, Will Young’s fifth album appears on the tenth anniversary of his first Pop Idol audition.
It’s salutary – and, for Young, deeply satisfying – to reflect how far he has travelled over the intervening decade from the talent-show cliché of the pop puppet. Where contemporaries such as Gareth Gates simply faded away, Young has become a credible artist who firmly exercises creative control over his career.
Echoes finds him teaming up with dance uber-producer Richard X, and while Will’s default mode remains classy blue-eyed soul anthems and sophisticated pop ballads, X introduces enough bubbling synths and subtle club/comedown beats to give this material a fresh twist.
There are hints of George Michael on Personal Thunder while the pounding Jealousy and Good Things show why he was such a good fit when he recently worked with Groove Armada, but Echoes’ standout is Silent Valentine, a lush piano ballad worthy of Elton John in his pomp. Will Young has done the impossible: he has given talent shows a good name.