Daniel Merriweather, "Love & War"

81 Billboard Rating

If you judge an artist by the company he keeps, then Australian singer Daniel Merriweather's debut album, "Love & War," is a winner before you even hear the first note. Produced largely by Mark Ronson, the set boasts backing band the Dap-Kings and duets with Adele and Wale. But Merriweather delivers just fine in his own right, with a soulful voice of the Otis Redding/Al Green/Marvin Gaye variety and lushly arranged songs that channel an array of influences from early Elton John ("For Your Money") to vintage Holland-Dozier-Holland ("Impossible"). The track "Could You" marries Gamble & Huff with "California Dreamin'," while the first single, "Red," is richly constructed pop drenched in keening romantic regret. Merriweather doesn't seem to have a lot of luck in love-at least in song. But that's all right when it yields pithy lines like, "Giving myself to you is like giving myself to a chain saw/You keep cutting me open/Why is it the only thing that you're good for?"-Gary Graff

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