Review: Surprise! David Archuleta’s self-titled debut album is not bad

by David Burger

Grade: B-

David Archuleta’s liner notes for his self-titled debut album add up to more than 3,500 words, with the majority reserved for thank yous.

Thanks are certainly in order for his management, record label and producers, as that team helped the 17-year-old Murray teenager record an album that plays to his strengths. This is an adult-contemporary album with ballads that will appeal to his young, female fans.

Most important, the album avoids Timbaland-lite dance numbers and flavor-of-the-month guests like T-Pain or Lil’ Wayne that would be as appropriate as the same accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The reason Archuleta bested thousands of aspiring singers to become the runner-up in last season’s “American Idol” is his voice, the strength and confidence of which belie the young man’s giggly demeanor and lack of onstage charisma.

Archuleta’s rich tone, warm timbre and seeming inability to sing in the wrong pitch are created, of course, by endless takes in the recording studio. The harshest criticism for Archuleta during his weekly televised crucible was that while his voice was perfect, his youth and lack of life lessons made him unable to connect emotionally to what he was singing. While that is still his biggest challenge, he sounds invested in many of these tunes.

That plays to his advantage, because many of the songs are piano-based and mid- to low-tempo, which allows him to unleash that powerful, adult voice that doesn’t sound capable of coming from a teenager, much less one who suffered from vocal-cord paralysis several years ago.

“Crush,” Archie’s lead single, is a near-perfect pop tune that doesn’t suffer from the mind-numbing verse-chorus-verse blandness that plagues most of his contemporaries’ hits. And his expected second single is a rendition of Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” the only song here that Archuleta sang on “Idol,” and he sounds in control here.

Highlights of the new record are “Touch My Hand” and “Desperate,” which aim for grandeur, or at least as much as a teenager is able to strive for. Those songs have big choruses and sweeping (but not overwhelming) arrangements, but Archuleta delivers a penetrating, deep vocal that shows remarkable restraint. He doesn’t have to prove his voice with octave-jumping, as actors-turned-singers too often do.

The lowlights are too many midtempo tunes that fail to make an impact, even after repeated listening. (In contrast, “Crush” rewards numerous listens.) This isn’t an album that takes risks. Archuleta is to be commended for co-writing two songs, but those sound more filler than killer, with lyrics that settle for platitudes. But then again, who are we to look for answers for the meaning of life from a 17-year-old from Murray?


Click the link below to read some comments on the article…

Nice review, but I must take exception to the thought that David’s fanbase are “young females”. I’m way past “young” and I love David’s music. If you check out many of the fansites ( for one) you will find that most of the fans that comment are more mature females – way past teenage or 20 something. Anyway, I love the new album; at least David can sing unlike most “singers” today.

“unable to connect emotionally” That was never mentioned on idol. Paula even cried during his Imagine performance. Mariah Carey said his voice was “moving” and one of the back up singers cried when he sang “Heaven”. Even Dolly got a little emotional when David sang “Smokey Mountain Memories”. So what would you call that? One of the main reasons why he has such a loyal fanbase is because he WAS ABLE TO CONNECT 😀 I actually feel bad for those who arent able to…Anyways the majority of his fanbase are proud of him and we LOVE it.

David’s voice conveys emotion way beyond his years, showing depth that is remarkable for one so young. His passion for the music and interpretation of it are rare in any singer, no matter what their age. The musical director of AI said of David, “He came to a musical genius and left a musical genius. His was the level the others aspired to attain.”
His love and care for his craft are evident on this freshman album, which was produced in a very short time under a lot of pressure. It is an amazing first album and on it you see hints of future directions and greatness to come.

David’s new album is amazing. Check it out on Z100 radio. You can listen to all of the songs. David is an amazing live singer and he may have spent a fair amount of time in the studio for his album because he was learning new songs and is a perfectionist, but I promise when he sings them live, they will be pitch perfect as well. Also, his fanbase is very diverse, including men. Can he connect emotionally? You bet. That is one of his strengths, as evidenced by the many people who have raved about how his music touched them, including the mentors and judges on AI and his fans. He will go far.

You had alot of positive to say about David, but let me adress a couple of issue. First, It is no suprise that David’s album is outstanding. Second, did you watch a different AI season than I? Because I never heard any judges say David could not connect with his audience. Thats part of Davids talent is connecting with the songs. Did you miss Imagine and Finale night? We are way past AI now, and I agree Crush is a great pop song, but I think he has many songs on his album that have ‘hit’ potentional. David has plenty of Charsima, he brings out the best in everyone he is around. I am not trying to be overly defensive, but I am merely trying to challenge some of the thoughts you expressed that tend to have a negative tone.One other concern, is that many critics assume his fan base is small ban of young girls, that is not so. David music is loved by both genders, young and old. Over all though I think the review was positive, but as a fan I felt compelled to comment.

I must have watched a different Idol show than you did. The thing that drew listeners to Archuleta beyond his exquisite, soaring, passionate voice and rare musicality was his unreal ability to imbue his songs with so much emotion. He got me listening to music again after a more than 20 year lapse (other than periodic trips to the symphony). He pours so much heart into his songs that I’m often left weepy when listening. Just tonight as I was driving and listening to the leaked copy of his album (which I can’t wait to buy on 11/11), I got really choked up and teary-eyed because his voice is so tender in the songs.

I absolutely love this guy. He is the best singer to come down the pike in many a long year, and as a human being, he is beyond endearing. I’ve never been a fan of anyone in my entire life, but I will be a HUGE fan of his until well past forever. And, btw, I’m anything but a teeny-bopper. David draws people of all ages and both sexes. Incredible, phenomenal talent does just that. He is the BEST. End of story.


~ by archuletafanscene on November 6, 2008.

7 Responses to “Review: Surprise! David Archuleta’s self-titled debut album is not bad”

  1. This review with a B- does not sound so good to me. Am I missing something? Or is this a person who does not like David or his music?

  2. It sounds like he liked it, but I’d give it much better than B-.

  3. OK, so us fans are all a bit biased, but a “B-“. Nah….I’d give it an A or A+. Seriously, David’s vocals, phrasing and clarity are truly breathtaking. The lyrics on most of the songs go very nicely with who David is, and appropriately compliment him and what his music is all about.

    This CD, not only musically but, lyrically confirms that David Archuleta is a young man of character!

    Take Care,


  4. Ok, I may not be a music critic but I definatly know what I like and don’t like. Old enough to remember Judy Garland and lived teenage years through the Beatles. David’s album is exceptionlly good for his first, or many others second or third. He cetainly can transcend emotions to an audience which is a rare gift even for the most accomplished performers. Growing pains will emerge as he finds himself. His maturity in the choice of his music at present will easily move him to more diversified areas of music as he decides who he really is. This is a professional, savvy, talented young man who deserves and A on his first album. Listening to him sing from his new album makes me wish he would start his second. Can’t get enough of him.

  5. I think ‘Barriers’ and ‘To be with you’ should be worth mentioning. These songs are grade A in my opinion, besides ‘Desperate’. They are the songs that’ll connect more with non-teenager listeners

  6. what?!!! are they crazy???? when his album comes out, let the people who buys his album to make the judgement of his album. I personally love his album.

  7. This album is an A++. It’s soooo diversified….from harder-rock (Desperate) to ballad (To Be With You), to my new favorite “Don’t Let Go”…a fantastically upbeat perfect song you could dance to…..Oh yeah…any emotional dis-connect people may sense from him comes from his nervousness ( he is only 17 after all) and ALL THIS has to be pretty over-whelming! I recall him saying he literally couldn’t eat on the days they performed on Idol.It blows my mind that he does as good as he does, considering how sweet, sensitive and humble he is. I never would watch the whole Idol show (just the end)…when I saw him I HAD TO keep watching. His emotion comes from deep in his soul and is compelling…If anyone calls my house right now, my machine says “If you want to hear something DIFFERENT, you need an open mind and heart…David Archuletas new C.D. is a good place to start…on sale everywhere!” Tammy

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