Verdict: The lad sure can sing
Who knows if it's solely Stan Walker's doing or not, but it's as if the 19-year-old Kiwi-born lad who won Australian Idol last year couldn't wait to get his second album out. It's not even a year since he was crowned the talent show champ and only eight months since his debut was released.
And although that first album was called Introducing ... Stan Walker, which featured single Black Box, it's the follow-up that is more reflective of who and what Stan the man is. For starters, Introducing was recorded in two days and, being an Idol offshoot, it is essentially a covers album. But on From the Inside Out Walker co-writes a handful of songs, including the static, moochy and almost experimental R&B opener Inside Out, and the simmering With Me, which is a hearty backslap to God and his love for his girl.
However, the big bangers and immediately catchy songs are by professional songwriters, like chest-beating and uplifting first single Unbroken, the soaring pop and grand stomp of Choose You, and The One, a dramatic ballad and duet with British electro-poppet Pixie Lott.
Best of all though, is Love Graffiti, one of the most overtly cheesy and feelgood moments on the album but when Walker sings "I'd write ya name across the sky, and write love graffiti" you really can imagine him up there in his hot air balloon (or rocket ship, as the case may be) plastering up his message to his girl.
He's got a big voice. He was, let's face it, head and shoulders above his nearest competition on Idol, and this time round he ups the vocal gymnastics, pulls out some extra power, and, best of all, works on the subtleties and refinement.
While his version of Des'ree's 1990's hit Kissing You - the only cover on the album - is a little over-wrought and soppy, it shows the true range and quality of Walker's voice. It can be sweet (where others would just be simpering), soaring, and powerful.
From the Inside Out also sees him diversifying stylistically, from the lush, pure pop of Homesick, the quickfire R&B-meets-hip-hop of One Thing, and the soulful serenade of Chandelier (which could inspire a rash of babies named Chandelier perhaps?).
The end of the album becomes a little forlorn, but then he hardens up on the hip-hop social commentary of last track Stuck In A Box with lippy South Auckland rapper Young Sid.
Yes, it's all wholesome, family-friendly stuff, and when Walker sings about love it's from the heart rather than any other part of his body. But when he sings he also gets the heart fluttering - so make like Stan Walker and go and write some love graffiti tonight.
-TimeOutBy Scott Kara @scottkara Email Scott