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Review: Richard Stirton - Middle Ground
3.0Overall Score

He is undoubtedly one of the most exciting new local artists of 2016 and after winning the first season of M-Net’s hit reality show The Voice, Richard Stirton has released his debut album ‘Middle Ground’. The record includes his James Bay-penned winners single ‘What Hurts Me The Most’ as well as his follow-up record ‘Break The Silence’.

Coming from a reality TV background, it’s clear that Richard Stirton is a fantastic vocalist. He has demonstrated his talent on a weekly basis during the show’s run and brings the elements of his voice we fell in love with onto the songs on this album. Richard has always known what kind of artist he wants to be and made this very clear on the show. So, it’s great to see his passion for indie music shining through on the record. The album, however, does have major pop undertones to ensure the tracks are commercial enough to play on radio and ultimately appeal to a large audience – a smart business move.

The one thing I hate about reality TV show-winning albums is how rushed the recording process is. Often you can hear that not much attention was given to this aspect of the album and, unfortunately, this is the case with ‘Middle Ground’. Richard plays it safe on this album. The songs aren’t anything unique and the album doesn’t have an overall syle or sound to it.

However, although a bit of a confusing album, Richard shows just how talented and versatile he is with this collection of songs. He does a brilliant acoustic cover of Bon Iver’s smash hit ‘Skinny Love’ which highlights his vocal ability. His new single ‘Break The Silence’ is a beautiful feel-good track with major commercial appeal while ‘Our Night’ has elements of disco and funk and has the potential to be a smash hit. Richard also slows things down on the beautiful ballad ‘Fall Apart’ where he gives a really emotional performance. The many different approaches Richard takes sonically push him to stretch his vocals in a variety of styles which, much like on The Voice, proves just what a talent he is.

Richard time has finally arrived. This record will satisfy the many fans Richard has made on the show, however, it will be on his next album where the star will show his audience who he really is as a musician and a person. If you were blown away by Richard on The Voice, this album is a must-have.

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