Matt Cardle - Porcelain
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent
Matt Cardle joins Joe McElderry, Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and Steve Brookstein amongst the overlooked male X Factor winners who have been discarded by Simon Cowell's Syco and labelled by the press as flopstars.
While Ward may have turned his attentions to the West End, Jackson gone the songwriter route, Brookstein appealed to his fans via Pledge and McElderry become a housewives' favourite via 'Popstar To Operastar', Cardle has not given up on his original goal of becoming a mainstream pop star.
Having disappointed fans by criticizing the show which launched him back in 2010, it has to be conceded that Cardle has humbled in the years that followed. While currently engaged in a fierce battle with the X Factor's most recent winner - James Arthur - it appears that Cardle has realised that the only way to succeed is to focus his energies positively on his musical output.
Dropped by Syco despite the platinum sales status of his debut effort 'Letters', Cardle wasted little time in scoring his second Top 10 album in the shape of the slightly rockier 2012 release 'This Fire'. With the critics and public made aware of his intentions of never slinking away quietly, Cardle enjoyed the rewards of his determined attitude with sell out tours backing up the popularity of the release. Wishing to not let the fire burn out, Cardle is already back with his third release - 'Porcelain'.
Boasting a co-write on each of the ten tracks on 'Porcelain', Cardle could not have dreamed of a more successful launch for his third album than his duet, 'Loving You', with the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice storming into the UK Singles Charts at number 14 (a whole 161 places higher than 'It's Only Love' which launched 'This Fire'), but does the remainder of the album boast the joyous pop credentials of the lead track?
Quite simply, with 'Porcelain', Cardle has hit the nail on his head. Though there has never been a question of Cardle's vocal capabilities, his material has never quite aligned with with his potential - a goal which is finally realised on the ambitious, soulful tease of 'Porcelain'.
While 'Porcelain' does not quite make a perfect score - mostly due to the lacklustre opening 'In Chains' and frankly boring 'Not Over You' - there is plenty contained within the other 'Porcelain' tracks to ensure 'Porcelain' finds its way into the Top 10 Albums List of 2014. From the playful flirtation of 'Loving You' through to the addictive dirty determination of 'Your Kind Of Love', Cardle shows his true colours as an artist perfectly capable of conforming to mainstream demands without losing his independent edge.
However, it is teaming up with the under-celebrated crooner Conner Reeves to pen album standout 'Mouth To Mouth' and title track 'Porcelain' that really strike gold. Reeves sources within Cardle the soulful edge that distinguished his own solo career, creating a collaborative partnership that could easily redefine the British chart sound.
'Porcelain' is far from the delicate offering the title insinuates, but Cardle has finally released an album that has a precious touch. Cardle may be three albums into his solo career, but though an honest look into his own artistry, he has finally found a way to escape the X Factor curse. Cardle should no longer be listed as a flopstar, but simply viewed as a striking, compelling musician.
Matt Cardle - Porcelain, 28th October 2013, 10:43 AM