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Music Review: David Archuleta – The Other Side of Down

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Though not as exceptional as his 2008 self-titled debut, David Archuleta’s sophomore album, The Other Side of Down (Jive Records), is a consistently rewarding collection that moves swiftly through 12 tracks, kicking things off with the catchy, spirited opener (the title track) to the eternally optimistic album closer, “My Kind of Perfect,” which serves to wrap up the disc on a heartwarming note.

Indeed, ever since his arrival in the music world, fresh from a second-place finish on American Idol, Archuleta has been treating fans with his brand of pleasant, wholesome pop music that stays nestled somewhere between Jason Mraz and Justin Timberlake.

Who can forget his debut smash single, “Crush, “ that sugary-sweet and melodic ode to puppy love, or his equally mesmerizing follow-up track “A Little Too Not Over You,” a soaring, radio-friendly ballad he co-wrote? The Other Side of Down does not represent much of a departure for the talented 20-year-old vocalist, who effectively returns to his comfort zone with well-crafted, beautifully written contemporary pop numbers that tend to fare well on the commercial landscape, thanks in large part to his fanbase of eager teen girls, music-loving gay boys, and those grown folks who can always appreciate a warm spirit, great melodies and even more terrific vocals.

Such themes as unrequited love, heartache, and longing showed up on the first album and, not surprisingly, are back for a second go-round, lacing several singles on the new record. Look no further than the remarkable jazz-tinged first single, “Something Bout Love,” the funky-strutting “Stomping the Roses” or the aforementioned groove-laden title track. You might also be particularly fond of the playful “Parachutes and Airplanes,” the finger-snappy “Look Around” (also from producer Matt Squire) and other iridescent standout cuts like “Elevator” and “Good Place,” both of which show off Archuleta’s voice at its most gleaming.

With gifted songwriters and uber-producers like Squire and repeat collaborator Mike Krompass helping to steer the ship, Archuleta’s sound is crisp and bright, making the singer-songwriter come off more like an incandescent bulb in a tanning bed. Still, though delivering charm and spark, The Other Side of Down, offers nothing that depicts Archuleta as a risk-taker. At this point in his career, the singer seems content to play it safe, and considering his young age and promising future, taking it slow and pacing himself on his career path is probably a wise call.

As for the new album, Archuleta (who co-wrote eight of the 12 tracks) proves he has the goods to stay ahead of his class with a take on achingly bittersweet balladry that is quite his own. More to the point, there is no denying the young pop star’s seductive vocal skills and all-around appeal that oozes from the speakers.

DOWNLOAD: The endearing singles “Look Around” and “The Other Side of Down”

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About TYRONE S REID - Tallawah

  • Amy

    I appreciate this fair review of David’s new cd. As a fan in the “grown folks who can always appreciate a warm spirit, great melodies and even more terrific vocals” category, I’m especially grateful to not be lumped together under the stereotyped “granny” category!
    “Safe” seems to be the most common critique of the cd, and though I personally am not sure what alternative people have in mind when they say that, that view seems to have legs out there. In “David context”, I’ve heard his intentions to be authentically himself in this cd, and in this I feel he accomplished an honest, fluid compilation of personal, some fun/some heartfelt and beautiful, as well as some commercially sound songs. I agree with your “..considering his young age and promising future, taking it slow and pacing himself on his career path is probably a wise call.” Last, given your opinion of it being “too safe”, unlike other critics of the cd, I’m glad you do acknowledge what I feel is always the bottomline with David Archuleta, whether you love his cds so far or not, his credible talent and authenticly good spirit. ..or as you so aptly put it:
    More to the point, there is no denying the young pop star’s seductive vocal skills and all-around appeal that oozes from the speakers. Tks for the review.

  • http://faltzershq.com/ Chris

    This is a very good review, and most parts hit the nail on the head directly. Although, one part I do not agree with is where you stated that this album represents nothing of him, but as we are only an audience, and we still do not know a whole lot about his deep inner character to assume what just isn’t him. Therefore, I believe the best we can do is listen to what he has to say, and try to take his word for it. :)

  • frio

    He actually co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs, not 8. And I feel that this album is a better representation of who David is.

  • Nena

    tosod is a step above the usual dreck and manufactured music the music public has been inundated with. archuleta demarcates his talent from the biebers, the derulos, the other male pop singers by infusing formidable singing chops with a quirky, very humble personality unadorned with the supercharged and superficial trappings other singers need, and rely on, to sell. this cd is a clear progression from the debut, i see archuleta taking some definite risks and steps forward into more clearly defining himself as a singer/budding songwriter. there is nothing safe about ‘elevator’, ‘stomping the roses’, and falling stars – this is a real voice, with real emotional nuance captured here. his voice is one of the few not really needing to be overproduced, or autotuned, and that is a rarity in the current music climate. i like this cd, i think archuleta has gotten short shrift so far by a music industry dying, and hell bent on promoting mediocrity and flash in the pan, easy buck artists like the biebers et al. real talent and singers who can sing need to make a comeback, and archuleta should be leading the way.

  • kimk

    Thank you and enjoyed reading your review of David’s new CD.
    For me… hmm a melodious feel… circa the 80’s mixed in with with some fresh faced pop loveliness?
    Love each and every song on it but really digging Look Around, Falling Stars and Good Place.
    Thanks again!

  • ncdafan

    this cd rocks – that is all.

  • Erika

    This album is amazing. I never feel like skipping a track on this album. Finding an album like this is rare these days, filled with authentic vocals instead of the autotuned music that rules radio airplay. I strongly suggest buying this album.

  • VaBeachArchie

    David Archuleta is humble,handsome and a great role model …but the kicker is HE CAN SING!! Thanks for your review

  • karen

    I agree completely with Nena and love this CD. This is what Pop music used to be about before the auto tuned, overproduced crap to which we are being subjected on the radio today. David has a great voice, true emotion, and raw talent. Pop is generally geared to youth and today’s Pop is full of explicit lyrics and themes to which I certainly don’t want my kids exposed. David did not play it safe on many of the songs. It makes me sad that what is popular today in the music industry has absolutely nothing to do with the talent of the artist performing it.

  • huron

    please listen to this cd again – compare/contrasted with the debut, it is a more well rounded, more mature sounding cd, infused with archuleta’s personality, and stellar production. why do critics like to use ajectives like ‘polite’, cute’, and others to describe him. i think most of you either don’t listen to him, or you cannot see the budding genius of this young man. it’s a shame that many are so blind, and deaf, and lazy, because the industry is dying all around us, and labels and critics and radio are clinging to outdated models of what pop is, and what it’s best singers are supposed to look like. here’s one staring you all in the face.

  • sasha

    The Other Side of Down is pure pop heaven! David’s vocals are EPIC and his lyrics are meaningful! LUV IT! :)

  • jackson

    He wrote 10 songs for the record.
    Archuleta says this album represents more of him than any of his work done in the past. During Idol, producers tried to pigeonhole him as a balladeer who sings old songs. But he is a fun loving, quirky and curious teenager with deeper appreciation about life. If you say it’s safe because songs don’t use vulgar languages or overly sexy (like Katy Perry’s 3-way sex/swimming naked/striking on street or songs using ‘F’ word even in title, or all those sex sell music), I would agree with you.
    His music is pure pop, ear warming, feel good and positive music, but sincerely appreciative about life itself. My favorites:The other side of down, Good place, Parachute & Airplane, Who I am, Look Around, Falling Stars, Something ’bout love.

  • Kath

    Nice review for the most part, but I do take exception to the little categories that you have placed David’s fans. I know tons of staight music loving guys that really appreciate David’s music. You are just showing your personal bias when you say that…not based in truth or fact. David has fans of all ages, ethnic cultures, religious affliations and sexes. Please do not label David’s fans. People who love great singers, and great people are David’s fans. David is the complete package.

  • Dave

    I have to agree with Kath — “music loving gay boys”? Kind of alienating for a younger guys who like Archie’s music that do not in any way associate their sexual orientation with their musical tastes.

    And a note to Nena above, though your passion for Archie definitely comes through, you overstate your case. There is A LOT of “real talent” out their besides David Archuleta – you just have to sometimes look past the cover of Tiger Beat to find it.

    Justin Bieber, for example, doesn’t need to take a critical lashing in order to prop up Archuleta (or anyone). Bieber is good at what he does (without autotune, by the way) and while I happen to NOT be a fan of his I respect his ability. There are people who write off all American Idol winners/runners-up as “quick buck, flash in the pan” artists, so it doesn’t really strengthen an argument to say the same about others.

  • Susan

    To me and my children David is an amazing singer. We have all 3 of his cd’s. The latest one is great with its catchy tunes. My favorite “Things are going to get better”
    With Davids angelic vocals I would love for his next cd to be gospel or maybe just plain David with a piano or guitar.

  • violet4ever

    Thanks for the review! David is still 19 and TOSOD is his last album as a teen and the first he had any control over. He has said he wanted it to reflect his age, his quirkiness and his own thoughts and feelings. And he wanted it to focus on the upside. I think he succeeded wonderfully. I have so many favorites on the album. One you didn’t mention is Who I Am – I love the lyrics. I remember that cab ride of David’s because he tweeted about it at the time. I love the lyrics and I think it’s very relatable because sometimes everyone just has to get away from the craziness. And the bridge is heaven. Another great one is Complain which sounds like something out of his Nashville sessions but it’s actually 2 of the Crush writers (Eman and Hodges) plus Claude Kelly and Eman is playing the guitar. It’s one of the two David didn’t co-write but it’s perfect for him. The other David did not co-write (done by the same writers) is the one out-of-theme song on the album, Falling Stars. But what a beauty it is and I love hearing David sing it live. One of my other faves on the album is Parachutes and Airplanes (coined PANDA by ArchieRx) – I really want PANDA his on his concert set lists! BTW thanks for mentioning David’s adult fans. I love David’s voice and he’s a really fine human being too.

  • jackson

    Dave,
    you are a first guy who defended for Beaver. Every guy I know is sick of his commercialized demeanor, cracking voice, no ability of singing, writing and dancing like a puppet guided by Usher, swagger coach and adult songwriters who suck the fetus’s money.

  • Dave

    jackson- eh, maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough…

    As I said I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber, but I can acknowledge he serves a purpose for a lot of people. What I was trying to say is I don’t think denegrating one artist in order to prop up another is a good strategy. Many of the same negative statements made against someone like Bieber are the same things hurled at American Idol winners.

  • kami

    I love this amazing album! It makes me happy and want to dance to most of the songs. David co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs and the 2 he didn’t write (written by Emanuel Kiriakou)are “Falling Stars” and “Complain”. I really like the way David sings these 2 songs and my other favorites are “Stomping the Roses”, “Parachutes and Airplanes” and “Something ’bout Love”. Every song on this album has something special about it!!

  • Lorraine

    David’s music should be playing on the radio! Why isn’t it? It’s far better than the stuff you hear over and over on the radio. Also, David Archuleta’s name should not be in the same sentence as Justin Beiber. There is NO comparison.

  • Karen

    Decent review. I think a lot of us like David’s sophomore album more than you do. We looove it! One thing I do love of late is that reviewers are recognizing that David is uber-talented, has an incredible voice and musicality. He also has an incredible heart, and we love him for it. (He’s also easy on the eyes, truth be told!)

    A couple of small corrections–David is 19 years old, not 20. And he co-wrote 10 of 12 songs on the CD, not 8. Rabid fans like me know the details! I’ve seen David sing ten times in five states and can’t wait for the new tour!

  • lct

    Love the album but I don’t fit in any of the categories of people that you say would love the album. David’s fans are very diverse!

  • Dave

    Way to miss the point, Lorraine. (And by the way, you put their names in the same sentence yourself)

  • Re

    Love the new CD by David Archuleta. All 12 tracks are outstanding IMO. Usually when I purchase a CD I skip over some of the songs as I don’t find them enjoyable. Not on David’s CD listen to each and every song. His voice is truly what keeps me interested. I had the pleasure to see/hear David sing live and what a treat. A lot of concerts I attended the artist sounded better on the CD than live not worth the price of a ticket. Will continue to purchase his music as long as he continues to put it out there.

  • gracie

    I do agree with 13, Kath. I know quite a few straight guys who appreciate his music and some people even use his songs for their weddings, guys and girls!! This kid is different. He said he didn’t want to write songs to just sell to make money, but wanted to write something closest to his heart. Visit some fan sites and see all diverse fan base including straight adults who are musicians, djs, college students and many international guys.

  • johnchang

    “music loving gay boys?” What the heck? This is the reason why a lot of straight male fans of David are loathe to admit as much but not me.

    I think David is a terrific musician and with TOSOD he has shown remarkable musical and personal growth. I find this CD far more satisfying then his debut because it speaks more of him and his inner thoughts. I do agree though that he has huge potential moving forward because there is a lot more to this young man than he lets on. His song writing will probably get more introspective and reflective as he matures and gets more life experiences under his belt.Together with that voice of his I am eager for more.

  • Goboywonder

    “and those grown folks who can always appreciate a warm spirit, great melodies and even more terrific vocals.”
    There’s no denying this young man can SANG!!! That’s what hooked me. Yep! Yep! Yep!

  • cadt

    I absolutely love this cd. I loved David’s 1st cd. I am married to David’s Christmas From The Heart cd (play it all year long). And I am now addicted to TOSOD. It’s a perfect blend of get up and dance music, mature lyrics and David’s heart-wrapping vocals. Put it on and crank it up in the car. Oh what a feeling!!!

  • Shanny in Australia

    I did not appreciate your derrogatory and stereotypical description of David’s fans. You might want to consider your potential readers in the future before you insult them.

    Despite the insult I tried to read this review with an open mind and found unfortunately that the only point I agreed upon is that David is extremely talented.

    The vast consensus amongst David’s fans are that this album is very different from his first album and that he has taken several risks with it, particularly with his departure from mainstream music into quirky slightly alternative numbers such as Elevator and The Other Side Of Down. I personally think his debut album was very pop/rock and this new album is very eclectic.