Olly Murs is in his tenth year as a professional musical artist, having come second on the X Factor, way back in 2009. It was a golden year for the show, some might argue their best, producing not just Olly, but also Jedward, Joe McElderry, Stacey Solomon, and Lucie Jones among many others who are still making a living from music and entertainment.
Olly has released five albums so far, four of which have reached the number one spot, while his self titled debut, released in 2010, had to be satisfied with second place. Not too shady really! Olly’s 6th album, ‘You Know I Know’, set for release this Friday, November 9, looks set to repeat the trend, with its double album style blend of new songs and older hits.
We had the privilege to attend Olly’s listening party for the new album, and we can safely say it’s going to do well. Even if you’re not familiar with Olly’s music or his style, there’s going to be something you can get into, and you’ll likely know some of the tracks on the second disc, even if you hadn’t realised it was Olly.
Murs has co-written all the tracks, apart from ‘Moves’, his song with Snoop Dogg, the lead track on disc 1. Written by Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac, Ammar Malik and Calvin Broadus, it features on the soundtrack for the new Rowan Atkinson film, ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’.
The only other song of the 24 on the standard album (the deluxe features 4 extra tracks, two on each side) not including Olly as a writing credit is ‘Heart Skips A Beat’, originally released in 2011 on his album, ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’, so considering how many artists don’t write their own songs at all, it’s great to know that we’re getting an insight into how Olly thinks.
Ther’s a few collabs on the album, most notably, as mentioned before Snoop Dogg on ‘Moves’, and also Shaggy on the title track. ‘Moves’ is upbeat with a great rhythm, and is about confidence, and being comfortable with yourself. He follows it up with ‘Go Hard’, a dance track with a house vibe, it’s not a typical Olly Murs track, but saying that it’s still a complete groove.
‘Love Me Again’ is another absolute banger. Mostly acoustic, there’s some really appealing a capella parts. It’s something that must be said about the album – it’s going to be difficult to work out which singles to release. Obviously the tracks with the big name collabs have to be released, but otherwise, I’m glad it’s not my job to work out what else to put out. Every song’s a potential hit.
‘Excuses’, co-written by Olly, Steve Robson, and Grace Barker, is a bit of a ballad, showcasing his voice, and giving a little bit of an insight into his state of mind. At his listening party he said that he’d like to release it as a single, and I hope he does. It’s quite a change in sound for Olly, and it’s a pleasing one. He wanted to make a feel-good album; but there’s quite a few tracks that don’t exactly conform to that. The backing vocals in this, and the preceding track, ‘Love Me Again’, are stunning – the choral effect towards the end adds a lot to the track.
‘Feel The Same’ features Nile Rodgers on guitar, and it’s evident from the first note – Rodgers has a signature sound and it’s clear that Murs enjoys singing in this upbeat, funky style. The pair met at the GQ Awards in Germany, and hit it off, and so when it came time to look for people to put on the album, Nile was high up on the list. He used The Hitmaker on the record – his white 1960s Fender Stratocaster with the 1959 maple neck – which he used on such songs as ‘We Are Family’ (Sister Sledge), ‘Like A Virgin’ (Madonna), ‘Let’s Dance’ (David Bowie), ‘Le Freak’ (Chic)…among others. ‘Feel The Same’ has hit written all over it, and I’m certain that if this is released as a single – and I can’t see why they wouldn’t – then it’ll be another notch on the neck of The Hitmaker.
Listening to ‘Mark On My Heart’, we’re struck by a Motown vibe – there’s a really great harmony going on and in our imaginations we’re hearing The Four Tops, or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, or even The Jacksons.
It’s followed up by ‘Somebody New’, a completely different sound, reminding us of something between Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes. Again, it’s a new direction for Olly – it’s upbeat still – but it’s also urgent, rocky, and insistent – and we really liked it.
‘Take Your Love’ is a classic pop song, but possibly the weakest track on an album of excellent songs, and it’s followed by ‘Maria’, another which at first I thought might have been co-written by Ed Sheeran, with its fast paced singing and strong guitars. It’s another of these tracks that will get you up and dancing. It’s got a 60s ballad feel, and there’s a very strong Latin feel that goes way beyond the song’s name.
Title track ‘You Know I Know’, sees Murs return to his signature happy chappy style, it’s a calypso, Caribbean type track, which gives the feeling that both Murs and Shaggy really enjoyed themselves in the recording. Murs said it was at a time when he was considering taking a break from music, to go travelling. These thoughts coincided with him landing his role on The Voice, which found him sitting next to music legend, Sir Tom Jones. The fact that Jones has been pursuing his career for over fifty years inspired Murs, and caused him to realise that work didn’t have to be a chore, that he could enjoy himself as well.
Olly mentioned as he played his tracks that he’d had therapy after leaving his co-hosting role on The X Factor, because he’d been having panic attacks and increased anxiety. Talking to someone outside of the industry really helped to bring him back to a better place, and his song, ‘Talking To Myself’, touches on that hard time in his life. In light of this, Olly will be performing at The Roundhouse on 18 November, at the first Music 4 Mental Health concert. Also featuring on the night will be Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie, James Arthur, and Ella Eyre. Hosted by Jordan Stephens, half of Rizzle Kicks, and founding ambassador of #IAMWHOLE, the award-winning mental health campaign, the show will raise funds for the UK and Ireland’s leading youth and mental health charities, including The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), The Mix, and the YMCA. The event is sold out but check their official resale partner Twickets.
‘Younger’, the final track on the first side of the standard edition (the deluxe also features bonus tracks ‘Love You Better’ and ‘Footsteps’) is a slower track, but still a good tune – it’s a fitting end to a fantastic album, or in this case, the first side of the album.
Disc two takes all over Murs’ extensive back catalogue, and it’s a guarantee you’ll know at least some of the songs. He’s following up the release of the album with an extensive 19 date UK and Ireland tour in May/June next year. Tickets are on sale now.