The Awakening (James Morrison album)

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The Awakening
Studio album by James Morrison
Released 23 September 2011
Recorded 2010–11
Genre Soul, adult contemporary, pop
Length 46:24 (without bonus track/s)
Label Island
Producer Bernard Butler
James Morrison chronology
Songs for You, Truths for Me
The Awakening
Higher Than Here
Singles from The Awakening
  1. "I Won't Let You Go"
    Released: 16 September 2011[1]
  2. "Up"
    Released: 16 November 2011[2]
  3. "Slave to the Music"
    Released: 20 February 2012[3]
  4. "One Life"
    Released: 26 March 2012

The Awakening is the third album by English singer, songwriter and guitarist James Morrison, it was released on 26 September 2011. "I Won't Let You Go" was the first single released from the album in the United Kingdom. The album was certified Gold in the United Kingdom just two weeks after release. The album has been certified platinum in the UK for sales over 500,000 copies and has sold 1,000,000 copies worldwide.


"It feels like the first album to me, like the other two were my practice shots and this is the real thing."

James Morrison telling about his new album for "Music Week".[4]

The Awakening is the first album by Morrison to be released with Island Records after he recently parted ways with Polydor, his label of six years.[4] Three years in the making, the album is influenced by the death of his father, as well as Morrison’s own steps into parenthood. It also sees him form a new creative relationship with producer Bernard Butler, who has further advanced Morrison's foray into a classic but contemporary soul sound.[5] "I don’t want to put across that, yeah, the album is about my dad, losing my dad; some of it is but the other half is this sense of being woken up to what I wanted to achieve," he said in the interview by Music Week.[5] Meanwhile, speaking of the title itself, he told Blues & Soul: "I basically just wanted it to feel like a first album, in the sense of me having woken up as an artist and person – you know, I wanted to forget that Broken Strings kind of pop side of me a little bit. And so, with me having actually written a SONG called 'The Awakening', that title also just kind of neatly fitted the album TOO."[6]


"To me the album is positive. Even the songs about my dad are positive. I didn't want to write songs that were downer songs but I wanted to capture that fucking deep ache that I had from losing my dad because that was the most powerful emotion I've ever felt – apart from having a kid, which is harder to write about because it's happiness..."

James Morrison telling about the inspiration for the album's songs.[5]

Bernard Butler has produced 10 tracks on the album, with Mark Taylor helming the remaining two. Taylor was behind Morrison's "Broken Strings" (his biggest hit single to date). Taylor's tracks were the first two singles from the new album: "I Won't Let You Go" and "Slave to the Music". Co-writers include long-term collaborators Martin Brammer and Steve Robson, who have worked with Morrison since his debut, as well as Dan Wilson and Toby Gad.[5] English singer-songwriter Jessie J is featured on the track "Up".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[8]
BBC Music (favorable)[9]
Entertainment Focus 4/5 stars[10]
Daily Express (favorable)[11]
The Observer 2/5 stars[12]
The Independent 1/5 stars[13]
The Scotsman 2/5 stars[14]

Mike Diver wrote for BBC Music that "The Awakening is lacking the grandstanding moment it needs to elevate it above reserved recommendation." Diver also noted that "Morrison has a truly great album in him – he's the emotional baggage to craft it, should he let locked-away demons loose – but for the third time in a row, this isn't it."[9] Jon O'Brien wrote for Allmusic that "With several songs relating to his alcoholic father's death on his third effort, The Awakening, the husky-voiced guitarist appears to have rectified one of his issues, but despite the presence of Suede's Bernard Butler as producer, it's difficult to hear how he's made any attempt to deal with the other."[8] O'Brien perceived that "lyrically, he's never been better, but until Morrison manages to infuse some of this raw honesty and emotion into his sound, he's always going to struggle to create that one great record that his impassioned and soulful voice deserves."[8] Andy Gill wrote a negative review for The Independent, stating that "It's as if he's learnt the technical grammar and inflective vocabulary of soul-style singing, but isn't able to make it into a coherent language that actually unlocks the emotions."[13] Ally Carnawalth wrote a mixed review for The Observer, stating that "Strings and expensive-sounding gloss are applied by producer Bernard Butler but unfortunately it's Duffy-era Butler, rather than the sweeping soul of his mid-90s David McAlmont collaborations."[12] Fiona Shepherd wrote for The Scotsman that "The Awakening follows mildly in the throwback direction of Aloe Blacc, paying tribute initially to the classic string-soaked strains of Marvin Gaye but bottling it and blanding out as the album veers towards the middle-of-the-daytime-radio road. The soft-focus pop soul duet with Jessie J is simply a repeat run of his collaboration with Nelly Furtado, right down to the lack of chemistry between the two singers. Meanwhile, producer Bernard Butler is content to keep things slick, smooth, safe and sellable."[14] Pip Elwood wrote a very positive review from Entertainment Focus, writing that "The Awakening will be one of the biggest-selling albums of 2011 and we suspect it'll match the success of his previous two albums. Morrison is in a niche of his own and appeals to a wide audience. His voice is incredible, his songs emotive and his music timeless. Whilst everyone else is busy jumping on a bandwagon James Morrison is happy to just be himself and for that we commend him."[10]


  • "I Won't Let You Go" was released as the album's lead single on 16 September 2011. It also received an advance release in the Netherlands on 25 August.[3]
  • "Up", featuring vocals from Jessie J, was released as the album's second single on 16 November 2011.[15] It was later released in Germany on 13 January 2012.[2][16]
  • "Slave to the Music" was released as the album's third single on 20 February 2012. The song also received an advance release in the Netherlands and the United States on 5 August 2011.[1]
  • A music video for the song "Right by Your Side" was released on Morrison's official VEVO account on 18 July 2011, prior to the release of the album and lead single.[17]

Chart performance[edit]

The album debuted at number-one on the UK Albums Chart. Morrison previously scored a number one with his 2006 debut Undiscovered.[18] The album sold almost twice that of last week's number-one, Kasabian's Velociraptor!.[19] In the second week, the album holds at number-one, despite strong competition early in the week from Surrey rockers You Me at Six.[4][20]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "In My Dreams" Morrison, Dan Wilson Bernard Butler 4:44
2. "6 Weeks" Morrison, Martin Brammer, Steve Robson Butler 3:13
3. "I Won't Let You Go" Morrison, Martin Brammer, Steve Robson Mark Taylor 3:49
4. "Up" (featuring Jessie J) Morrison, Toby Gad Taylor 3:38
5. "Slave to the Music" Morrison, Gad Butler 3:23
6. "Person I Should Have Been" Morrison Butler 3:46
7. "Say Something Now" Morrison, Brammer, Greg Kurstin Butler 4:01
8. "Beautiful Life" Morrison, Brammer, Kurstin Butler 2:42
9. "Forever" Morrison, Eg White, Fraser T. Smith Butler 3:41
10. "The Awakening" Morrison, Wilson Butler 5:10
11. "Right by Your Side" Morrison, Robson, Claude Kelly Butler 4:59
12. "One Life" James Morrison, Gad Butler 3:18
13. "All Around the World" (bonus track) Morrison, Martin Terefe Butler 3:17

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format
Belgium 23 September 2011 Island Records CD, digital download
France 26 September 2011
United Kingdom
Australia 30 September 2011
New Zealand 3 October 2011


  1. ^ a b "iTunes – Music – I Won't Let You Go – Single by James Morrison". iTunes. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Singles Release Diary". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Slave to the Music – Single van James Morrison – Download op iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Copsey, Robert (12 July 2011). "James Morrison announces new album 'The Awakening'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Jones, Stephen (3 July 2011). "Island awakening for James Morrison". Music Week. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  6. ^ James Morrison interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' October 2011
  7. ^ Walker, Louisa (18 July 2011). "News: James Morrison Collaborates With Jessie J On New Album". 4Music. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c O'Brien, Jon (16 September 2011). "James Morrison – The Awakening". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Diver, Mike (16 September 2011). "BBC – Music – Review of James Morrison – The Awakening". BBC Music. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Elwood, Pip (26 September 2011). "James Morrison – The Awakening – Entertainment Focus". Entertainment Focus. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Gage, Simon (25 September 2011). "James Morrison – The Awakening – review – Music – Express". Daily Express. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Carnwath, Ally (25 September 2011). "James Morrison – The Awakening – review – Music – The Observer". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Gill, Andy (23 September 2011). "Album: James Morrison, The Awakening (Island)". The Independent. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Album reviews: James Morrison – Remember Remember – Roots Manuva – Robert Crawford – Martin Simpson – Mark McKnight – Corsica Canti & Musica". The Scotsman. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Album track-by-track: 4. Up". James 21 September 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  16. ^ Copsey, Robert (12 October 2011). "Jessie J, James Morrison tease music video for new single 'Up'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "James Morrison – Right By Your Side". YouTube. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Sperling, Daniel (2 October 2011). "James Morrison collects second albums No.1 with 'The Awakening'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "02/10/2011 – James Morrison wakes up to Number One album; Sak Noel tops Official Singles; Nirvana returns to Top 10". The Official UK Albums Chart. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Rihanna scores a record sixth Number 1!". The Official Charts Company. 9 October 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "ジェイムス・モリソン:ジェイムス・モリソン". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Awakening (Deluxe Edition) by James Morrison – Preorder The Awakening (Deluxe Edition) on iTunes". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "James Morrison – Official Store – Merchandise, T-shirts, Tickets, CD Albums, Vinyl, MP3 Downloads, Posters, Bags". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  24. ^ "iTunes – Music – The Awakening (Deluxe Version) by James Morrison". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Awakening Charts". Hung Medien. 
  26. ^ "CANOE – JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". 29 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  27. ^ "James Morrison: The Awakening" (in Finnish). Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  28. ^ a b "James Morrison – The Awakening – Music Charts". Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "CYTA". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  30. ^ "Ö3 Austria Top40 – Album Charts 2011". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  31. ^ "Die Jahrescharts 2011! – News". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  32. ^ Steffen Hung. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2011". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  33. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2012". ARIA. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2012 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  35. ^ "Austrian album certifications – James Morrison – The Awakening" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 20 October 2012.  Enter James Morrison in the field Interpret. Enter The Awakening in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  36. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (James Morrison; 'The Awakening')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  37. ^ "British album certifications – James Morrison – The Awakening". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 20 October 2012.  Enter The Awakening in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search