Rating:

4/5

Verdict:

The lad sure can sing

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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.

-TimeOut