Island Records (label)
01 June 2015 (released)
03 June 2015
Although it is just over a decade since Will Young shot to fame, it is remarkable to think how much times have changed. Pop Idol was so much more innocent, seemingly less corrupted by corporate demands. Even though it was 2002, Young couldn't even be thoroughly open about his sexuality, which now seems quite extraordinary. Since then Young's career has always been more interesting than your standard talent show winner. This is his sixth studio album, but first with a new label and an album he says he's always wanted to make.
So what's changed in the four years since his last record? It appears that Young has done a lot of growing up. On opening Brave Man, he talks of scars from "years gone by" and perhaps there has been some collateral damage from this maturing. Over his last few records there have been hints of the direction Young could settle on but it was the sublime collaboration with Groove Armada (History) that showed what he could do. Brave Man is exactly that kind of song. Young's voice still has that vulnerability that captured the housewife vote in 2002, but mixed with sweeping melodies and dance rhythms it gains extra depth.
Album highlight Like A River displays this to full effect, a track with a thumping under current, wonderfully produced and lending itself to dance mixes. The closer Dare captures the same sensual mood. If only Young could do more of this. Elsewhere there's a little too much simple pop, as if he feels the need to still keep some of those original fans happy. There's the Take That pounding of Blue, while Joy is the sought of song he should have stopped doing 10 years ago.
Better though is the single Love Revolution, with its Motown feel and Promise Me's extra subtlety and emotion. While not quite the album it could have been, 85% Proof shows that Young is still a serious artist for us Brits to be proud of. Most of all the album exudes confidence. Given this sure footing, Young could be heading towards bigger and better things.