Christian Heath has already established a glowing reputation in his homeland of South Africa and surrounding region as one of the most promising pop artists emerging from that background in some time. Heath initially embraced a band concept for his talents, even scoring a hit with the song “Everything of Me”, but soon found band strictures limiting his performing and songwriting ambitions. He has released a spate of singles in 2018 attesting to his growing commercial skills and he’s now truly writing songs capable of drawing widespread, rather than niche, attention from the music listening public. Both casual and devoted music fans alike will flock to his latest release. His new EP One is a five song collection staking Heath’s claim on the future with equal parts talent and finesse.
The opener “I’m Yours” is a clear winner for that kick off slot as it combines superb dramatics with a rousing spirit sweeping you up and keeping listeners engaged from the first. The polished production prioritizes instrumental balance and it gives the song coherence lacking in similar efforts from many of Heath’s contemporaries and peers, but certain facets of the performance stand out. The drumming is an important part of the song’s success and the second half of the song highlights that strength. The EP’s title song “One (A World Song)” features guest performer Infidelx and is a much edgier, more modern sounding performance than we hear with the opener. The electronic driven arrangement proves to be no obstacle towards Heath setting up grand choruses and investing the performance, as a whole, with genuine warmth and gravitas. It maintains a consistent tempo throughout, varying it for effect during different section, and incorporates choir vocals with impressive results.
The Caribbean/tropical flavor of the song “Tonight”, featuring another guest talent Nixi who nicely complements Heath’s own performance, represents a 180 degree stylistic shift from the title song but it never fails to work. The musicianship is particularly high here and the number should be one of Heath’s live favorites in short order. “No Good for You” returns us to the musical territory heard with the EP’s opener, but naturally has a different flavor than “I’m Yours”, both lyrically and sonically. One abiding quality coming through is Heath’s vocal chops and the superior production presents them in a very entertaining fashion. Backing vocals are once more used in a spirited fashion.
“Paradise” is comparatively muted to everything we’ve heard so far. You might expect this piano ballad to be a by the book cinematically styled number hitting some grand peaks along the way, but Heath shows terrific and effective restraint by, instead, modulating things in an artful way and never allowing the emotional tenor of the piece to become too overwrought. The final number, “Magic”, is one of the best pure pop tunes on One and packed with tasteful atmospherics seamlessly meshing with an urgent musical foundation. Christian Heath’s One sets the stage for the next lap of his development with sure-footed talent and more than a little inspiration powering his songs.
by Jason Hillenburg
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