Stan Walker has been one of my favourite finds from the various talent shows that have come and gone on Australian television. With an impeccable voice, I still remember his rendition of Purple Rain that absolutely blew me away. With his new album Truth & Soul in which he covers classic soul hits, we are immersed back into the wonderful world of his music and incredible talent. Within the album Walker puts his own spin on iconic hits, however some songs work better than others.
Before even getting into the highs and lows of the album, I have to comment on the sheer beauty of his cover of Endless Love feauturing Dami Im. This track is the absolute highlight of Truth & Soul. Their voices and harmonies create eargasms of pleasure. The track pairs their voices with a simple piano accompaniment and once the violins enter, it’s just flawless and raw. This collaboration is much better than his collaboration with Samantha Jade in the song I’ll Be There that also features on the album. I’ll Be There fails in showcasing chemistry between the singers and their voices don’t exactly mesh well.
While the genre that Walker taps into is musically breathtaking, some of the songs fail to build and reach a great climax. In saying that, the first track Ain’t Too Proud to Beg is a brilliant showcase of the beautiful big band theme that shines throughout the album. The various brass, electric guitar and piano ornamentations that slip through each song are brilliant and add to musical variety. Try A Little Tenderness showcases Walker’s raspy vocals at their best and while starting off stripped back, this track succeeds because it builds momentum. The organs and piano melodies give the track depth and colourful accompaniment. This Woman’s Work demonstrates his soft and whisper-like vocals that lend to an emotional sound.
In some songs, however, his musical spins prove to be too diverse and take away some of the great elements of various classic hits. His rendition of I Got You (I Feel Good) feels disjointed, as he seems to cut out the necessary and incredibly iconic riffs. While I do admire the changed tempo and rhythms, the missing iconic form of that song just feels wrong.
Overall, Truth & Soul showcases a playful approach to musical covers and that is something Walker should be commended for. However, there is also a danger when transforming iconic hits – their beauty can be lost. Walker’s vocals shine in this album and it is nice to see him steer away from the pop scene and reconnect with his roots. This album is a solid effort but I wish there were simply more build ups that would’ve made this album itself iconic.