Review: “Shayne Ward” by Shayne Ward (CD, 2006)

Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain future is the 2006 eponymous debut album Shayne Ward by X Factor winner Shayne Ward. Will this album hit its Goal, or will you want it to be your ex-CD? Read on…

Shayne Ward - Shayne Ward (2006) album cover
Shayne Ward – Shayne Ward (2006) album

This 13 track CD opens with lead single and instant schmaltzy ballad, That’s My Goal. The accompanying video is the usual rags-to-promised-riches sob story (‘I’m here to win your heart and soul. That’s my goal‘ he sings), with copious footage from the TV series and shots of Simon Cowell looking like he’s chewed a wasp whilst on botox. As for the song itself, the piano sounds great, but it really is a white-label winner song, written for nobody and yet everybody in particular. It’s a plodder, and thankfully this winner is able to throw some big vocals all over it. He seems to be leaning towards the Will Young vocal style, but flanked with acoustic guitars and sympathetic strings, it’s quite a nice unhurried and delicate song. Shayne, as many fellow X-Factors was part of the annual winner-takes-the-Christmas-number-one slot, with Ward taking 2005’s with this single.

No Promises follows that, and this was his second single. This one is a more up-beat track although sounds like there’s a dash of auto-tune in play here for some of his heartfelt lyrics. Eventually a gentle R&B beat arrives with a simple bass line, and his vocals sound nice and warm here alongside some fleeting backing vocalists and what sounds like a pan pipe and an orchestra. It’s pretty chilled out, with a few big notes for Shayne to hit, and he does this well. The track hit #2 in the UK singles chart.

In what sounds like it’s trying to be Unchained Melody with it’s piano sequence, and thankfully isn’t a cover of Stand By Me, this version is predictably another plodder. However, the strings arrangement here is really nice, and they help to lift some great vocals from Shayne who sounds like he’s effortlessly delivering them, even for the obligatory get-off-stool gear change for the final third. The track stood as the album’s third single, but it failed to capture the same success, reaching #14 in the UK.

Next up is All My Life, which lifts the beats up a bit more, giving us more of a fuller song. A gentle R&B sits throughout, alongside piano and acoustic piano. Occasional drama drum fills signal the big notes from Shayne, and he seems to give them his all here, with some great vocal harmonies too. This sounds like a boy band track, but Shayne manages to cover it all off nicely.

You’re Not Alone is next, and we’re back into R&B, piano, and acoustic guitar territory again. I’m not really sure if the album will break from this style, or when, but the sound is nice enough. This track has some nice soft vocal layers throughout the verses and chorus, and the delivery keeps this uplifting song nicely up in the air. The final third’s key change and big note comes as no surprise,

That leads on to I Cry, and a glimmer that stylistically we’re about to stray. Spanish-styled guitar emerges, and there’s a fleeting synth hints at a different sound… but then we’re dropped into a downbeat strings and acoustic plodder again. As always, Shayne’s vocals sound superb, but the song doesn’t that far, despite some really nice big notes that pitch him against soaring strings.

Then we’re up to What About Me – a cover of Moving Picture’s 1982 hit. Unfortunately though, Shayne X-Factor’s it to hell, sucking all whiffs of the original’s excitement out of it in favour of another plod by numbers ballad. This could have been a banger, but no.

Back At One follows after that, and this is a cover of the song’s writer – Brian McKnight’s 1999 single. The gentle R&B beat is rolled out again. Once again Shayne’s heartfelt vocals meander through this song with seemingly little effort, flanked by the orchestra.

More plinky-plonky piano follows that, and so it’s time for Someone To Love. This gives Shayne the chance to show of some reflective heartbroken vocals. You’ve guessed it, acoustic guitar is there, over a gentle beat and a string section.

Then it’s Something Worth Living For, which sounds subtly different musically and vocally, even if the same instruments are in play. Shayne’s vocals seem to dance throughout the lyrics of the verse and chorus, and he gets to show off his vocal range.

A Better Man is next, and we’re back to the mold for this song as the song plods along over a tinkling piano and the return of the Spanish-sounding guitar. Strings flourish in the background briefly, as Shayne sings over the top. He does get to show off some more of his power and range though, which is impressive, but it’s a common occurrence by now, with a key change that you can spot coming a mile off.

Up next is Next To Me, and my goodness, this song has a pulse, and feels completely different. It’s almost disco meets Supermen Lovers, meets George Michael’s Outside. It’s a foot tapper that throws in vocal effects, brass stabs, and plenty of disco nods too. This really should have been a single with a ton of mixes. More of this style would have done this album a lot of favours.

The album closes with a ‘bonus track’ of Over The Rainbow which is a live version from the X-Factor show. Cowell is clearly cashing in yet more from his TV career. Whilst Shayne does well with the song he’s been lumbered with, sounding like a fairly capable cruise ship lounge bar singer, it’s an odd inclusion here, and one that could and should have been left in the vault of TV performances only.

Shayne Ward’s lead single ‘That’s My Goal’ (2005).

Verdict

Over all, this album is in the thick of X-Factor manufacturing – with very little difference between songs.

Sadly, the album could easily just be background music as musically the songs are so similar, stylised and formulaic that they could have been sung by anyone who ‘won’ the X-Factor competition. Shayne manages to prove that he is a very capable singer, but he often sounds bored with yet another plodding, sodding, ballad.

There are some nicer tracks tucked in here; with No Promises, I Cry, and aptly Something Worth Living For all having just enough about themselves to stand out in the crowd. Next To Me is a very welcome stand-out song tucked at the end and it’s a shame that more of the album wasn’t like this. Stand By Me and What About Me are probably on the weakest side of the rest of the (bland) offering. The album really could have been cut down by 3-4 tracks with no over-all loss.

If you want to listen to music but you don’t have energy to listen to it, then most of this album will suit you.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2023 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 2006 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #1, certified Platinum by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: 45p from a Discogs.com seller.

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