Aside from a collection of swing covers released in 2006, Good Thing marks the first time Paul Young has released a solo album since 1997’s self-titled affair. Rather than writing and releasing new material, however, he’s aiming back towards his roots and tackling a selection of Memphis soul tracks in his own covers; a safe choice, and one that makes a lot of sense for him. Unfortunately, the execution of the album isn’t quite as good as you might hope.
From his cover of Al Green’s L-O-V-E (Love) to The Bee Gees’ Words, there’s an interesting mixture of tracks here. It’s undeniably static, with songs all pulling from identical sounds and featuring a similar palette of instruments. The choice makes sense given the context of the album, and moments such as the upbeat, brass heavy cover of Homer Banks’ Ain’t That A Lot Of Love and the generally sunny opener L-O-V-E (Love) are extremely enjoyable and fresh among some slower tracks that often sound more similar to each other than they do to these two.
The thing that makes Good Thing a sort of struggle to stomach, however, is Paul Young’s own vocals. Time has given him a much huskier voice, one that occasionally struggles to keep up—most notably on Eloise (Hang On In There)—but always feels a little out of place alongside these arrangements. He sounds most comfortable on the cover of Words, and it’s only a major detracting factor in Eloise, but it does hold the album back somewhat.
Rather than a return to form for Young, Good Thing sits firmly as a solid but largely unimpressive cover album. Existing Young fans will surely get a kick out of the album, and it’s nice to see him going back to something familiar and positive after such a long absence from his solo career, but that’s about the extent of what the album offers. Good Thing is a nice album, but not one you’ll revisit often.