Taio Cruz (pronounced Tye-oh Krewz) is just what American music needs. It's too bad that we had to go to the UK to find him. Having done the Urban Dance-Pop thing ahead of the curve that is dominating airwaves and iPod players in North America, the talented 27 year-old singer-songwriter picks up where Ne-Yo teased us back in 2008 with his excellent single Closer, but failed to run with on subsequent singles.
Originally released in October 2009 in the UK, sophomore effort Rokstarr is repackaged and modified for tastes on this side of the Atlantic with just ten solid tracks. The North American pressing of the album includes smash single Come on Girl (ft. Luciana) from his debut album Departure, plus three additional new tracks. Italian Disco meets Reggae track Higher is undeniably a welcome addition to his catalogue, while I Can Be takes a queue of the string sample heard in Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve) and planned second single Dynamite is almost as catchy as Billboard Hot 100 Chart topping Break My Heart. Although musically it has no bearing with its presence, a collaboration with Ke$ha, Dirty Picture gives North Americans that added bit of familiarity to ascertain that Taio Cruz can be a household name in these parts too.
Touching upon common themes of love and club fun, he has only one goal with this fantastic collection of songs and that is to make you feel good, creating a feeling of summer nostalgia. As the album approaches a close, a much deeper level of talent is hinted at as he gives us a wider scope of his versatility with a bit of Rock but definitely Pop enough, on tracks like Falling in Love and Bonus Track Feel Again, a ballad; an illustration of how many mainstream acts of this era haven't been able to avoid the influence of Coldplay. Beautiful.
Taio Cruz's Rokstarr, in stores through Universal Music on June 1, 2010, will be your soundtrack of the summer. Grade: A
Preview second single Dynamite below in full (courtesy of Universal Music):