Matt Cardle is back with his third album in as many years this week with the release of Porcelain. We could open this review by complaining at length about the way The X Factor has treated him since he won in 2010 but all we’ll say is they’ve treated him like crap and leave it at that. Since winning the show Cardle has scored two Top 10 albums with Letters and The Fire and recently scored his biggest single since 2011’s Run For Your Life with Melanie C duet Loving You. Porcelain is a 10-track collection but does it live up to Cardle’s previous releases?
Porcelain sees Cardle teaming up with a variety of writers and producers including Jamie Scott, JC Chasez, Ben Cullum, Connor Reeves and the legendary Brian McKnight. The end result is an album rich in variety showcasing Cardle’s influences and pushing his rock/soul fusion further than ever before. The album opens with In Chains which a slow-building song that puts Cardle’s voice at the front exploring its range and utilising his distinctive falsetto. Lyrically the song is about being able to break out of a situation that is holding you back. You have to wonder if it’s part-related to his troubled relationship with The X Factor since winning.
Variety is certainly the order of the day on Porcelain. Current single When You Were My Girl is an uptempo pop/rock song with a slice of funk, Hit My Heart is a mid-tempo track with a strong pop melody and title track Porcelain is an emotive ballad with a superb vocal from Cardle. The biggest surprise on the album is the Brian McKnight collaboration Not Over You which is the most soulful track on the record and one of the most effective. Pairing Cardle’s vocal with stripped-back piano melodies the track is heartfelt and moving.
We can see why Loving You was chosen as the album’s first single as it is one of the strongest tracks on the record. Cardle’s voice works well with Melanie C’s and the duet is one that is hugely catchy. You can hear the chemistry popping out of your stereo. Your Kind of Love is another highlight and showcases the rockier side of Cardle’s talents with electric-guitar riffs leading an off-beat melody.
Porcelain is further proof of Cardle’s growth as an artist since winning The X Factor. It would have been easy for him to follow the formula and polish of Letters but he hasn’t done that. As he did with The Fire, Cardle has taken the time to explore different sounds and collaborators to offer his fans an album that is a progression rather than a rehash. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves and actually he’s one of the best stars The X Factor has produced. Whilst that show may have discovered him, it’s Cardle that has taken control of his career and proven himself on his own terms.