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Jack Savoretti review – smouldering pop doesn’t quite catch fire

A lack of tenacity is not one of singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti’s shortcomings. On the scene since 2007, back when remember-thems such as Mika and Just Jack were hot new properties, it has taken the Englishman of Italian descent six attempts to release an album that alerts a mainstream audience to his adult-orientated, genre-flexible pop and suave likability.

Singing to Strangers claimed the No 1 spot in March though, and it’s with that record’s opener, Candlelight, that he begins – its strings-dappled cinematic mood, like Ennio Morricone doing a Bond theme, presumably providing the inspiration for a stage dressed with red velvet curtains and movie-set-style floor lamps. Dying for Your Love twangs and smoulders as if it’s about to break off into Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. Wearing a sharply tailored dark suit and tastefully crumpled sky blue shirt, Savoretti – the kind of guy who has no use for collar buttons, and sips red wine from a proper stem glass – is an easy-on-the-eye picture of continental sophistication. (He additionally has Polish, German and Austrian roots, and lives on a Balearic island.) If he gets a lot more famous, he could totally do a Nespresso advert.

His songs are convincing when he gets loquacious about them. For instance, he introduces Things I Thought I’d Never Do with a winding story about staring solemnly into the wood panelling of his first, beat-up secondhand piano, and how it reminded him of the confession box at Catholic school. Then he launches into a square-edged, cliche-haunted ballad about “asking for redemption” from a lover, and the intrigue dissipates.

What More Can I Do? is a tidy approximation of Otis Redding’s sweeping soul, but the bulk of Savoretti’s stuff leaves little mystery as to why a breakout long evaded him. Better Off Without Me goes for bleeding-hearted magnanimity but comes off as feeling a bit sorry for itself. Touchy Situation belies a co-writing credit for Bob Dylan. The wedding band disco-funk of Back Where I Belong means enough to one couple down the front that they get engaged somewhere around the middle eight, earning a heartfelt congratulations from a genuinely made-up looking Savoretti. If he starts writing songs as distinctive and warmly appealing as his personality, then he could be an irresistible proposition.

Touring the UK until 31 May.

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