James Arthur – Back From the Edge

X Factor winner James Arthur has just released his second album Back From The Edge, but has he managed to leave the game show baggage behind and carve out his own identity?

By Jane Howkins

The answer to that is sort of, in that there are some good songs here that are a little different from the X Factor mould (always a good thing), but it’s still far too similar to what we have heard before, both from Arthur and his X Factor cronies.

The title of the album is very apt, considering how the past few years have gone for Arthur. Unfortunately, he has received quite a lot of bad press since winning the X Factor, due to catty one night stands, twitter spats and accusations of homophobia. Coupled with his drop from Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, it seemed that Arthur’s fall from grace would never end, but with Back From The Edge, he might just be able to do it.

The songs here seem to take two directions. They’re either love songs (such as Say You Won’t Let Go) or very full-on songs about quite literally coming ‘back from the edge’, such as the title track and third song Prisoners. There’s no real divergence from this pattern and as such it can feel a bit samey. However it’s in the second category of songs that Arthur seems to thrive. The love songs can border on being a bit cheesy, but tunes such as the Prisoners and Sermon change things up a bit and bring a harder edge to proceedings. This feels like Arthur taking the reigns a little bit more, and it’s something we would like to see more of in the future. His voice is also much more on point in these moments, capable of some fantastically soulful roars.

The main issue here is one that is common within the singer-songwriter and pop music genres, and that is that it’s all just a bit generic. It’s a shame really as James Arthur really is quite a talented guy. Perhaps in a few years he’ll be able to break out of the mould a little bit more. It’s not a bad record by any means and there are some good songs here, but just don’t expect fireworks.

Back From The Edge by James Arthur was released on 28 October 2016, available here