David Archuleta: The Other Side of Down

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Posted October 18, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

On junior album, Idol runner-up delivers middle-of-the-road, but confident set of pop music

David Archuleta may have walked away from American Idol as the little kid that could, but his small, but supportive adolescent-to-granny fan base stood with him and has blossomed since the release of his self-titled 2008 project. Being safe and playing with cotton-candy pop offerings has been his approach to music. While handsome enough to crack into the whole Disney-Jonas Bros. regimen, Archuleta’s geekiness may be his trouble spot for epical stardom. Certainly he proved to have a voice that could easily transcend itself unto the charts and could even cross-pollinate its way into other genres and styles, if necessary, the only thing that stands in his way is his image and the right material.

On Archuleta’s sophomore event (minus the holiday album), The Other Side of Down, he makes some modest improvements and comes out swinging like a comfortable, commercially-synchronized pop singer. In addition to that, his voice seems a bit more confident, seasoned and almost original. In places when the 19-year old singer performs like on the delicious upbeat title cut, he pulls off a dreamy, impressive ascent into his high register and falsetto. The disco-tinged pop groove, cupped with a Jay Sean “Down”-inspired chorus works well for the young lad, as does the S*A*M and Sluggo-produced “Somethin’ Bout Love.” With a bit of ‘80’s arena rock and sugary synth-pop, the song proves to be Archuleta’s best personality-fitted single to date. Its spirit of optimism in search for Cupid’s blessing is appropriate for the young and the lyrical images of heartbreak and believing in love once again is a poignant piece of reality for grown-ups.

Although not as safe as Archuleta’s eponymous album, Other Side of Down features a bundle of playful numbers, using obvious metaphors to describe his up-and-down (mostly down) swings at love. “Elevator,” with a Paul McCartney tint, thankfully isn’t quite a kiddie ride (“Elevator goes up, elevator come down/And you just go with the flow until your feet are back on the ground”), but it’s a cool, in awkward attempt at blending Archuleta’s soon-to-come manhood with his apparent youthfulness. “Parachutes and Airplanes” resembles that same adventure, even expounding on his growing-older sound using an innovative set of synth strings with radio appeal.

The album’s advantage abides in its ability to scurry away from borderline-campy material. Songs like “Elevator,” “Complain” and the Top 40 rock-pop of “Stomping the Roses” allow the album to build on simple, yet effective melodies. The inspirational ballad “Things Are Gonna Get Better,” done prior to the ‘It Gets Better’ movement, blossoms up like a gospel number and fits right into the collection.

Archuleta is also getting more involved in the songwriting process; co-authoring much of the album. Without having to rely on a excessive string of producers to define his sound and style, he does the opposite of what most struggling artists his age does. He knows what feels comfy on him and he applies his wisdom to this process. Thankfully, the material and production shines with great possibilities of more albums to come.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: October 5, 2010
  • Label: Jive
  • Producers: Jeremy Bose, S*A*M & Sluggo, Chris DeStefano, Mike Krompass, Emanel Kiriakou, Matt Squire, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley, Mitch Allan, A. Ander
  • Track Favs: Other Side of Down, Something ‘Bout Love, Parachutes & Airplanes, Elevator

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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