Thursday 29 August 2013

Naughty Boy - Hotel Cabana

Who is Naughty Boy?  'Hotel Cabana', the London producer's debut album, offers few clues.

For the most part, this feels like the second album from Emeli Sandé.  A year after her own debut was released, she remains as ubiquitous as ever.  Not only did Naughty Boy produce 'Our Version Of Events', but Sandé is the most featured singer on 'Hotel Cabana'.  Wonder will already be familiar to many, whilst Lifted is quite literally lifted almost straight from Heaven.  She also features on opening track Welcome To Cabana and Pluto, the latter of which is a decent effort with an hilarious rap from Wretch 32 ("I ain't gonna fall for that talk from your anus").

As a whole, 'Hotel Cabana' is like a cross-section of current UK talent, all slickly produced by Naughty Boy.  Yet in the absence of any personality from the producer, it's left for each singer to put their own stamp on each song.  Think About It could be taken straight from a Wiz Khalifa album; Sam Smith's incredible vocal takes over recent single La La La; Gabrielle sounds just as she always has done on Hollywood; No One's Here To Sleep is pure Bastille; and Ed Sheeran provides an acoustic track, Top Floor - Cabana, amongst all the electronic production.

On the extras, too, Wiley and Sandé (again) feature on a cover of White Town's Your Woman that's essentially a Wiley track.  Most criminal of all is a cover of Daft Punk's Get Lucky that removes any sense of funk and fun for a slow, chilled vibe.  If anything, this track was probably a last minute addition purely to sound current.

Of course, the producer's role is to support the artist, but you would still expect a personal style to creep through.  A Calvin Harris produced track sounds distinctly like a Calvin Harris produced track, for example.  Yet the only thing holding this album together are the spoken interludes provided by George The Poet.  Naughty Boy himself remains an enigma.

If you want to buy a compilation, you'd be better of with the latest 'Now'.  Still, it's not bad for a self-taught producer who bought his equipment after winning Deal or No Deal.


Gizzle's Choice:
* La La La
* Pluto
* No One's Here To Sleep

Listen: 'Hotel Cabana' is available now.