Review: James Arthur – ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’

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Authentic

Arthur returns with an authentic and heartfelt track that, while not the most original lyrically, is a step-above the standard love song.

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After two years of silence, I wasn’t expecting much from the 2012 winner of The X Factor, but ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ is a nicely surprising combination of his unique vocal tone, a fairly Ed Sheeran-esque backing, and some rather poignant lyrics. It doesn’t quite have the impact of genuine Sheeran (or indeed of his own single ‘Recovery’), but it’s powerful nonetheless.

The relaxing yet uplifting guitar-and-piano backing is refreshingly acoustic, giving Arthur the perfect stage to really put power and passion into his vocal. The small rifts in his voice complement the backing perfectly and provide excellent variation throughout, and the soft piano moments similarly shift the contrast to maintain his vulnerable voice as the focus. It’s good to see Arthur letting his voice take the foreground on a light and soothing rhythm, pitched perfectly for what he seems to be aiming for.

What he actually sings, however, is far from special, reminding me closely of One Direction’s ‘Little Things’ and other tracks of a similar style. It is Arthur’s powerful delivery and changes of speed, tone, and pitch throughout that gives the lyrics themselves some form of life. The track ends up an authentic declaration of feeling rather than a sweet love ballad, and his motivations may themselves be reflective of his regret and “deep embarrassment” with regard to his actions after fallouts with Syco. Whatever his story, ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ is certainly not a song void of authentic emotion.

‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ is out now via Sony Music

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About Author

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Philosopher and Historian and major pop-fan. You can find me listening to most pop in the charts (Beyoncé and Sia are most certainly goddesses), as well as some modern jazz and classical and enjoing the occasional trip to the theatre. I'm also interested in the repurcussions of the representation of sex in modern-day media! And I might be a fan of the X Factor. Sorry, I can't help it...

13 Comments

  1. avatar

    not origianl lyrically? what about musically where it is so unoriginal you would think it was a cover version of man who can’t be moved by the script

      • avatar

        Did you people really try to dog on this amazing well written song?! Just because you see someone else that is successful and you are being jealous doesn’t mean you get to demean this man that has worked so hard to get where he is at now. Just for another thing to bring up, If he “Plagiarized” then why is it a huge hit huh? People all around the world are enjoying his music. So all of you narcissistic people out there stop worrying about yourselves, But if that’s to hard then don’t say anything at all.

    • avatar

      Youve hit the nail right on the head. When I first heard it I thought it was a cover as well but I ccouldnt think what of untill I read your post. Definitely man who can’t be moved by the script without a doubt

  2. avatar

    I don’t see this to be honest. The lyrics are very asimilar to Ed Sheeran but the beat is much more stripped back compared to The Script. It’s equally got its own quite earthy originality which is emphasised by Arthur’s vocal and, in my opinion, is why its had a quite surprising popularity having topped the ITunes chart. It’s lyrics cohere to the standard but musically its has its own unique approach which has reminded people why we loved Arthur so much in the first place.

    • avatar

      Same here. I heard it for the first time on radio and thought it was a cover sung by boyce avenue . Nonetheless, the song’s great and also love it including its melody! <3

  3. avatar

    hmmm… ” I heard that you’ve settled down that you found a girl and your happy now” , seems to be happening more and more, artists picking up on a few bars of a well known song, plagiarising it, changing it a little and calling it their own, I wonder if Adele and Dan Wilson are hearing a little of “Someone Like You”?

    • avatar

      It’s an interesting point, but it could just be because of the predominance of Adele’s hit. Of course, songs in the same vein will be produced in the future but this one is a lot more upbeat and earthy than Adele’s hit and while its focal point is similar we should be careful drawing too many comparisons more general than that. If anything at all this simply shows Adele’s dominance over this genre as the style of music reminds the listener of her (much like the solo-upbeat guitar approach reminds us of Ed Sheeran or the high-pitched vocal exposing numbers make us think of Sia). Reminding us of an artist and copying an artist are two separate things 🙂

  4. avatar
    Rosanna Smith on

    Mr.Arthur is an amazing singer, and the lyrics take my breath away. There is not a woman on Earth who would not want to hear those words said or sung to her. I could listen to this song every day, all day long. I need to hear this son, sung by this artist…period.

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