Though Daniel Merriweather may be best known in the US as the remarkably soulful voice behind “Stop Me” (a standout track from DJ/producer Mark Ronson’s eclectic album Version that went to #1 on the UK’s airplay chart), the 27-year-old Melbourne native firmly establishes himself as a solo artist in his own right on Love & War which pulses with ’60s soul keyboards and horns, warm textures of acoustic and electric guitar, and cinematic string arrangements, all anchored by Merriweather’s combustible vocals. Love & War is also a showcase for Merriweather’s considerable songwriting talents. He wrote nearly every song on the album with various musician friends and then presented his compositions to Ronson (who produced the album) and his backing band, The Dap Kings, who also played on Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Ronson’s Version.
“For Your Money” – Merriweather has a wonderful voice that seems to get lost in the echoing music that surrounds him like a shower curtain. Regardless, Merriweather pushes through and gets the most out of a good song.
“Impossible” – Sure, it sounds like a Motown song–all except Merriweather’s attempt at being the soul of Smokey Robinson.
“Change” – This is more nu-soul and seems to fit Merriweather a lot better than the tracks that are pure attempts at rewriting the Motown songbook.
“Chainsaw” – Cliche and lacking anything soulful.
“Cigarettes” – If country music ever needed a soul singer Merriweather would fit the bill, sort of, consider no one in Nashville would give him a second listen. Motown? If this was the first song they heard they might bail too.
“Red” – Merriweather tries to turn coal into a diamond. Too bad his voice is bigger than the generic lyrics.
“Could You” – The attempt at ripping off “California Dreamin” is just painful. Why not just cover the original rather than chopping up and hacking to death the original? It’s just painful.
“Not Giving Up” – Skip it.
“Getting Out” – Skip it.
“Water and a Flame” f/Adele – Adele steals Merriweather’s thunder. Wow. She is amazing. Too bad he didn’t just hand the entire song over to her. She proves why she is such a huge star. Merriweather tries to manage, but he can’t get the power back.
“Live By Night” – Painful.
“Give Everything Away for Free” – It’s pretty, but is lacking a hook that makes you want to sing it over and over again.
“The Children” – Didn’t Michael Jackson make 50 songs like this? 49 of which weren’t much better.
Daniel Merriweather tries really hard to do what Oasis did. Oasis took the elements of the Beatles and revamped them and stole the best pieces for their own songs. Merriweather tries to do the same with Motown. The difference is that Oasis actually wrote songs worth of being classics. Merriweather doesn’t have one track that could sit side-by-side with any great Motown hit.