Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I know the logic and I, I know your reasons

South African singer Heinz Winckler, winner of the first season of Idols (South Africa's version of Pop Idol), released his third album, Moment Of Truth, about a month and a half ago. His first album was poppy, the sort of CD you could enjoy immediately, and great. The followup was a grower, but it grew into something amazing; the unplugged feel and occasionally unusual rhythms lent themselves to creating a really gorgeous album. The lead single for Moment of Truth, "Another Day," gave a solid indication of Heinz's new direction for this new album: rockier. I'm still a little unsure as to where I'll ultimately come down on this album, but there are a few things I've noticed about it.

Another Day

The lead single hints at some of the albums main problems, though it's better than many of the album tracks. I think this new rockier style might not totally fit Heinz's voice. "Another Day" doesn't totally demonstrate that problem; album track "Back Together" does (unfortunately) a better job of that. I'm not criticizing him as a singer; on songs like second album single "Can't Lose With You," Heinz is probably the perfect singer (both because his voice suits the song and because you get the sense that he may have had to work really hard to sound so good on the song, giving "Can't Lose With You" extra emotion and perhaps even desperation or desire). His voice works better when it doesn't have to be heard over blaring guitars, which brings us to the second problem with the album: not only do I feel there's a mismatching between Heinz's new rockier style and his voice, the particular style of rocky pop he's chosen isn't always good one. This relates to a phenomenon I have trouble describing but is really important to my enjoyment and perception of music. Not all loud guitars are blaring guitars; the best I can describe "blaring" as is loud guitars that don't sound like they're playing anything in particular, just creating this sonic wall with no hooks or entry point for the listener. Heinz is probably best in a poppy environment (the first album) or a more laid-back (though no necessarily ballad or slow) environment, but there are moments in Moment Of Truth that work better than others.

Got Me Believing

Love Will Breathe

"Got Me Believing" is one of those moments, as is "Love Will Breathe." "Get Away" and "Don't Know What I'm Feeling" both fall into this category as well. "Got Me Believing" (possibly the album's best song) and "Love Will Breathe" verge on the blaring guitars--actually, you could probably make the case that almost or all of the songs on the album do--but they manage to be fairly successful. "Don't Know What I'm Feeling" is propelled along by a nice little riff. However, I can't help feeling that, though these are good songs, they might have been much better sung by someone else. Don't get me wrong; I still quite like them, but I think they might be inarguably great if sung by someone else. There's something about Heinz's voice--I'm not sure whether it's changed, or whether it is because of the change in musical environment, but it seems fuzzy and maybe even thin. There are moments where his voice works, and moments where the songs work, but there are also moments that just don't fit, be it lyrically ("Get Away"'s line "I'm inundated by you, titillated by you" or "Love Will Breathe"'s "what if one lover is all, all you needed/why is commitment a word we have deleted," the latter of which is a line I might see myself buying if delivered by someone like Simon Curtis but just seems odd--maybe even preachy--coming from Heinz) or musically.

Get Away

This review probably sounds very negative, and it really shouldn't; over the course of almost a week, Moment Of Truth has grown on me a good deal, and it's certainly not a bad album--I would still recommend it--but, if you asked me to choose which of Heinz Winckler's albums was my favorite, I'd have a very difficult time choosing between his first two albums, both of which are truly, truly great, but I'd easily be able to take Moment Of Truth out of the running. Part of me wants to blame the songwriting; this is being billed as the album in which Heinz finally got to be more involved in the writing of the album--perhaps this was a case of a new writer working through some ideas and not really knowing what works, resulting in some good tracks and some not-so-good ones? I don't think so; back on second album Come Alive, Heinz was writing songs as good as "Drowning Me," and he only has writing credit on 4 of 12 tracks on this album (which does make the "it's finally my chance to show the real me!" marketing approach an odd one).

Once again, though: if you like this style of rocky pop, it's worth buying, as it's a good album. I just don't think it surpasses either of his previous two works. I've tried to post the best songs from it (and I really think the chorus to "Got Me Believing" is great), but that doesn't mean there aren't others worth hearing (though there are definitely some worth skipping). I'm still a bit ambivalent about it, though; my opinion could change over the next few weeks. I think one of the things I miss most is the pop sensibility that informed some of Heinz's earlier songs, but maybe I'll "get" these ones after a few more listens. In fact, for several of these songs, I can already feel that happening.

On a lighter note: look, Heinz, if you're the winner of the first season of your country's Idol series and you want to shamelessly steal from the Kelly Clarkson school of rocky pop for your third album, this is the way to go:

Guy Sebastian - Elevator Love (Web Rip)

(Link removed at request; head over to the witty Popalastic to stream the song)

I am not a follower of Guy Sebastian (though I do like some of his songs, like "Oh Oh" and "All I Need Is You"), nor have I ever felt a desire to buy one of his albums, but I think this song--his upcoming single--works pretty well; even if it does follow the Kelly Clarkson formula pretty exactly (and I think it reminds me of some other song), it's fairly catchy for that particular subgenre--in fact, I think I might really like it!

To buy Heinz Winckler's third album, Moment Of Truth, go here (physical); to preorder Guy Sebastian's third album, Closer To The Sun, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a themed post, or that Swedish singer.

(By the time I finished this review, I'm really questioning my evaluation of Moment Of Truth. I'm not going to claim his first two albums don't have subpar songs, so I may have focused excessively on the negative side of things in regards to Moment Of Truth...I'm not sure what to think...)


J'ason D'luv said...

Yeah, I'd do Heinz. But that girl pictured at the bottom of this post should look into a better moisturizer.

Anonymous said...

Could you please remove the link for Guy Sebastian's song 'Elevator Love' as you are possibly brenching copywrite.

Thank you

Paul said...

I am unsure whether i have room in my life for ANOTHER idol, but i do remember the wink from world idol and thinking hello mister! nice face, good voice, which is enough for me to want to check him out... i think Lee needs a spell check though....and if i like the artists i've downloaded I always go and buy them from iTunes, if not i delete their song anyway... :)

Anonymous said...

Hahaaa yes Paul I should spell check.

*breaching copy write


Lee xx

Poster Girl said...

Apparently his nickname on Idol was "Hunky Heinz," although I'm not so sure about the pseudo-mustache/stubble he's rocking in some of his more recent pictures...

Lee: sure, I've taken down the link. I do just try to promote artists, and since I have a feeling a lot of people outside of Australia might not have heard of Guy, one way to increase publicity (and sales) is to let them do so. A lot of people who read blogs follow a policy similar to Paul (listen to a song, buy it if they like it or delete it if they don't)...but I understand that when a new song by a popular artist comes out, people who aren't normal readers may find the site, download the song, and never buy it...so, link removed :)

This album isn't bad, Paul, and I quite like a couple of the songs, but I'd start with some of his earlier stuff...I'll probably post "Can't Lose With You" at some point, which I think is a gorgeous little ballad...and thanks for the support! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for removing the link Poster Girl - very much appreciated :)