Duncan James is best known as the fashion disaster from the boyband Blue, the sometimes fat one, or the one whose arrogance is only less than Lee Ryan’s. His solo debut Future Fast however could have been easily the best solo offering of the bunch if not for the fact that his singing can really grate on the nerves at times.
Songs like Sooner or Later, Suffer, and Frequency are standard pop-rock anthems that clean-cut boyband members put out when they’ve gone solo and want to show some “street-like toughness” to go along with their new body piercings, fake tattoos, and a wardrobe consisting entirely of muscle tees and brand new torn jeans with faded washed-out effects. However, these songs are too catchy for words, and it especially helps that no one expects Duncan James to be some authentic rocker. He’s a lesser clean-cut Ryan Cabrera, so he manages to carry off the cheesy songs very well indeed.
It is during the heartfelt and beautiful ballad Letter to God and the bombastic and beautiful tribute to Erasure/A-Ha 101 that is Breathing that this CD suddenly feels like a very good buy even if it’s only for those two songs. Mr James isn’t the best singer but the very nature of these two songs is too good where I’m concerned. Breathing starts out as a standard mid-tempo song but it builds up beautifully to a falsetto-driven crescendo of epic proportions before ending on a simple understated note – just pure perfect ear candy, that song. Letter to God isn’t as pretentious as its title suggests, the song has a really haunting and beautiful melody where the gentle verse sweeps smoothly into a simple chorus that is catchy as well as it is heartfelt. The very structure of these songs make up for any vocal inadequacies in Mr James’ part, although a part of me wish that a stronger vocalist is performing these songs. Believe it or not, I find myself thinking that Clay Aiken will kill with these two songs. That man may be cheese personified, but these songs are a good kind of cheese that will be perfect for him.
Many of the good songs here are very nice on the ears in spite of the uneven vocals of Duncan James. The songs are good despite the artist – I like Future Past but it could have been a greater CD if the songs are performed by someone with more vocal talent than the dude on this CD.