The best performers in pop music, presently and historically, are those who can manifest a sense of urgency through their work. James Patrick Morgan’s “Expected” leaps out of the speakers with the sort of thrilling, clutch you by the throat immediacy that engages the mind and body but, yet, manifests all of the requisite pop virtues to ensure that the song stays firmly lodged in your memory long after it concludes. The really sweet, unexpected qualities are two fold – the first is the unexpected, yet immensely likeable, swagger that Morgan generates thanks to both his vocal and the musical arrangement. The second quality helping to push this single even higher is inight cutting across expectations and really helping the song, ultimately, come off like top shelf, surprisingly sophisticated pop with a strong singer/songwriter vibe.
The production for “Expected” is well rendered throughout and blends the disparate sonic elements into a coherent whole without ever emphasizing one over any other. The main musical things at work here are the percussion and Morgan’s voice. Morgan, in particular, focuses a lot of well spent attention tailoring his phrasing style in a percussive fashion that enhances both elements.
The acoustic guitar running underneath the vocal is the true musical heart of the track, but there’s no question that the low-key rhythmic pyrotechnics bubbling throughout the song make it equally memorable. Morgan’s songwriting ably handles every transition; moving from verse to verse, verse to chorus, and the bridge are handled with the seamless skill set of a much more veteran writer and performer. Morgan, undoubtedly, has served himself well with astutely chosen collaborators who have aided him in realizing his musical vision, but there’s equally little question that his talents are the prime movers for this song and he manifests them in a wide variety of forms.
The aforementioned vocal hit the mark and more without expending apparently much effort. There’s a certain ironic twist to his vocals, a lightly peddled sarcasm that never overwhelms the listener with attitude. The arrangement is a great match for his singing and they work in perfect sympathy through. His phrasing has a half-smile half-sneer running from the first line to last and the lyrical content gives him an ample of amount of dramatic material to work with.
It isn’t typical for emerging young performers to demonstrate such a rounded artistic approach, appealing confidence, and a thorough mastery of the form. Morgan is certainly a handsome young man and carries himself in a eye and ear catching fashion, but the breadth of his skills go far beyond the need to pander for attention. Technique can be refined but, ultimately, promise isn’t something you can teach or hone. This is a punchy, vibrant single that long term careers are built on. James Patrick Morgan has the strength to make an immediate impact and the staying power to continue evolving and reaching new heights for years to come.