When an unknown Scotsman called Darius Danesh auditioned for Popstars with an excruciating version of Britney Spears‘ Baby One More Time, he seemed set to be little more than one of reality TV’s embarrassing footnotes. But the determined Darius resurfaced on Pop Idol (minus his ponytail and beard) – and sported a startling new attitude which took him all the way to the final three.
While Will Young and Gareth Gates were swept up in the euphoria of being the nation’s new favourites, Darius cannily melted away for months. While his Pop Idol colleagues were breaking chart records with hastily-arranged cover songs, the Edinburgh lad was biding his time, and sure enough, scored a debut number one with Colourblind with far less fuss.
Darius seems determined to do different, co-writing every track on his new album Dive In – and putting his name right through it like a stick of seaside rock. ‘Colourblind’ kicks off proceedings in a light, poppy, guitar-driven sense with easy lyrics and a memorable chorus – and turns out to be a tentative test song for some of what lies ahead. New single Rushes is hardly a quirky experiment lacking in pop sensibilities, but is a rich, chugging, rock-tinged little song. And a chorus backed by a vein of Celtic fiddles is an electrifying treat.
The lush strings make a comeback in the album’s title track, which is another strong song which sits comfortably in the rock-pop camp and has a hard-to-ignore uplifting vibe. But Darius is a man of more than one mood – he has a flair for whimsical lyrics, possesses a voice which can pour out moments of vulnerability, and has been blessed with other musicians who balance the equation.
I Gotta Know Tonight and sweet tune Girl In The Moon lay to rest the old image of Darius Danesh, the supremely over-confident Popstars hopeful who lacked sensitivity. But Darius the successful solo singer-songwriter seems to musically excel with interludes of bursting happiness. ‘Sliding Doors’ is another rich feast of strings, guitars and layered instrumentation which stands out- and sees Darius’s distinctive voice exercised to its fullest, while Mocking Bird is another upbeat treat capable of beating the murkiest of moods.
If any comparisons have to made with his former Pop Idol colleagues, then it’s all in their voices. Gareth has the boyish voice of an angel, Will is a honeyed tenor, while Darius is blessed with a chocolately baritone with an easy elasticity- and sounds superb on this album. ‘Dive In’ is a thoughtfully-produced, even collection of songs with no nasty blips and a clutch of tunes which make a lasting impression- plus a hidden track to search for. Darius’s rich voice is a beautiful instrument which blows his contemporaries out of the water- although as Pop Idol showed, it is not everyone’s first choice.
His musical sensibilities have been allowed to shine through, and his rock-edged pop is reminiscent of a male Natalie Imbruglia. Above all, he has made every effort to shake off his Pop Idol tag, and coming third was possibly the best thing that ever happened to him. But better still, Darius can look back on his Britney Spears moment and laugh it off for good with this piece of work under his belt.