James Morrison, Luminaire, London

Luminaire, London

"You're so lovely!" roars a female voice, to a chorus of high-pitched agreement. All James Morrison has done to merit this is introduce a song called This Boy, explaining that he wrote it as an adolescent (not very long ago, then), when he wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with his mother. "It's a therapy song," he says, and the room duly erupts into yearning squeaks that portend the arrival of an artist that teenage girls and their mums will want to keep an eye on.

Morrison is at least the third James Morrison in pop, but he's genres removed from both the Doors frontman and Jim Bob in Carter USM. This James's distinguishing features are a scuffed-up voice that recalls Terence Trent D'Arby and a heavy frosting of boyish bashfulness. I suspect the latter is ramped up for the benefit of the ladies.

Morrison has come on significantly since he started playing live earlier this year; this gig, starring just himself, his guitar and a keyboardist, presents the 21-year-old songwriter as a fully formed, credible contender. His dishevelled looks won't hurt his chances (except among those who think there are quite enough sad-eyed Radio 2-ish balladeers to be going on with already), but there's a voice to back them up, and an album-ful of potential lighter-wavers in his debut release, Undiscovered. The Last Goodbye, sung unaccompanied, is a moody piece that justifies venerable producer Jerry Wexler's raves about his soulful style, but Wonderful World is probably a better signature tune, incorporating a touching story about overcoming an unstable childhood, delivered in a fresh, unaffected way that, like the rest of his music, demands attention.

· At the Wireless festival, London, on Thursday. Details: o2wirelessfestival.co.uk


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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