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James Morrison appears ready to shorn "Undiscovered" status

TT the Bears, Cambridge, Mass., April 10, 2007

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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James Morrison is touring the U.S. with a lone backing musician. But emanating in the sold-out club time and again was a backing chorus in the form of fans - mainly female- who seemed to know the words to almost every song that young, handsome, soulful singer sang,

That bodes quite well for Morrison, though, he was fully capable of putting on a fine show without any help.

Morrison, who released his U.S. debut, "Undiscovered," in mid-March, has gained acclaim for his soulful brand of music, which incorporates influences such as Stevie Wonder and Van Morrison into the mix. In England, Morrison says he plays 4,000-5,000-person venues.

Fortunately, the 22-year-old does not merely regurgitate influences, but uses them as a launching pad. His voice melds well with the material that he wrote, starting with the title track and quickly launching into his first single, "You Give Me Something," which is gaining radio play. He later turned into a very strong version of Van Morrison's "And It Stoned Me." The influence was quite apparent, but Morrison's slightly throaty voice is a different instrument than Van the Man's.

At 45 minutes, the set felt short, leaving the crowd wanting to hear more, a good thing in the case of Morrison, who played 7 of the 11 songs on his album. He also played the Wonder-influenced "My Uprising," which is not on "Undiscovered." This was indicative of Morrison's vocal abilities where he breathed emotion and life into the words "things will get better." And there was no sense of oversinging, only passion in the words.

He closed very well with "Wonderful World," a song based on seeing a drunk, deaf person on a bus (Morrison, who owns a very affable stage demeanor, joked that, of course his observations ending up in a song and lamented "he's never gong to hear the song.") and encored with "The Last Goodbye" about the end of a relationship.

While playing with only Nikolaj Larsen of Denmark on keyboards worked quite well musically, one could easily envision more of a full-blown sound from Morrison working even better. Perhaps he will get the chance in the U.S. this summer when he opens for John Mayer.

If this show was any indication, Morrison will likely shorn his "undiscovered" status soon.