When it comes to singer-songwriters, Josh Kumra has had a better career start than most. With a Number 1 UK single to call his own already, courtesy of Wretch 32 collaboration Don’t Go, there’s the sense on his debut album – Good Things Come To Those Who Don’t Wait – of an anchoring point; solid foundations from which to build the rest of his sound.
Kumra’s most powerful asset comes in the definite soulful inflection of his voice, which sees what’d otherwise be rather bland cookie-cutter song templates elevated into more meaningful vignettes. Album opener The Answer is one of the strongest here; a fluttering, delicate number that suggests classic David Gray updated for a newly urban generation.
Nestling in a comfortable middle ground between the likes of James Morrison, Maverick Sabre and Ed Sheeran, it again comes down to the deftness of Kumra’s delivery to recommend him over his peers – confident and lean as opposed to forceful and try-hard. Kumra’s solo version of Don’t Go and the chocolatey crooning of Brave Face feel loose, thrown straight from an impromptu jam, and while a good bulk of the album’s latter stages tend toward rather aimless filler, that same looseness ensures that even when the tracks aren’t at their most memorable, they pass by pleasurably enough.
There’s a sensitivity to the production too. Reckless Love slides between slickly orchestrated beats and measured piano chords; the kind of soft MOR gentility that might have seen Kumra touted as a male Dido a decade ago. That said, when he does shift into stronger gear for the gospel-accented Waiting For You or the heavily Coldplay-inspired anthem Be My Light, it highlights a man still evidently hungry to grow and innovate. The latter in particular provides a much needed broadening of the album’s sonic palate, throwing synths into the mix to break up the wider swathe of procedural acoustic numbers.
Good Things Come To Those Who Don’t Wait won’t go down in anyone’s list of the best debut efforts of 2013, but nevertheless, when it hits its mark, it showcases a young man brimming with the same kind of talent that saw Emeli Sandé shine as such a promising writing talent in the years preceding her eventual debut album and subsequent stratospheric success. Who knows, given a few more years, the same might lie in store for Kumra himself.