If you can keep track of all your American Idol seasons, you’ll remember that the fresh-faced David Archuleta came in second place to rocker David Cook in the show’s seventh season in 2008. But other than his sticky-sweet youthful looks and charm, Archuleta won over audiences and a loyal fanbase with his soaring renditions of inspirational tunes such as “Imagine” and “Angels.” Two years later, following a stellar debut and a holiday release, the 19-year-old Utahn shows even more growth as an artist with a new studio album, The Other Side of Down.
In The Other Side of Down, Archuleta stays true to his clean-cut image, incorporating the inspirational messages he conveyed in many of his Idol performances and singing about the purity of love. But while he’s always had a maturity in the way he presents his music, and still shows that on this album, there’s a younger, lighter sound at the same time—better for people his age and younger to relate to, yet grown-up enough for the older demographic to appreciate.
Another impressive step forward in Archuleta’s career, as demonstrated through this album, is that he has a songwriting credit to all but two of the tunes on the standard record—something that wasn’t seen on a large scale on his debut effort. His creative prowess shines through on the diverse tracks and poignant lyrics.
The debut single “Something ‘Bout Love” exemplifies Archuleta’s new sound well, although it doesn’t reflect all of the album. The retro-80s sound is loud and distinctive, but the message about the L-word is real, yet almost polite for the singer, and that’s something that is uniform throughout the record. There are plenty of catchy and bouncy pop jams to fill your ears with, like the title track and “Elevator.” There are meaningful mid-tempos, such as “Good Place” and “Complain.” Of course, an Archuleta album wouldn’t be complete without ballads, like the pretty “Falling Stars” and the piano-driven album capper “My Kind of Perfect.”
The just-read-the-title-and-you-know-it-inspires track “Things Are Gonna Get Better” is pretty epic with a gospel choir joining Archuleta later in the song with their vocals. But the title of Karen’s personal favorite track off The Other Side of Down goes to “Stomping the Roses,” a guitar and drum-based poppy number.
While I have to be honest and admit that this album is not exactly on heavy rotation on my iPod, it’s still a solid and remarkable effort from Archuleta. His music is full of depth, but still manages to perk ears up and although he still has that cute-young-boy-next-door vibe, he continues to flourish in how he presents a song with emotion as well as in his sophisticated songwriting. That, my friends, is a sign of manhood, and things for the already-accomplished Archuleta can only go
up the other side of down.
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10