Charlie Puth brought tears to the eyes of people around the world with his simple but stirring verse in See You Again, his collaboration with rapper Wiz Khalifa. The song, a tribute to late actor Paul Walker, topped charts in 26 countries and shot the 24-year-old singer to fame.
Puth's next single, the doo wop Marvin Gaye, featuring Meghan Trainor, also topped the charts. The singer playfully turned the soul legend into a verb, keeping expectations high for his solo debut record. Sadly, Nine Track Mind is a bit of a let-down. Puth plays it too safe, and doesn't seem to know where he wants his music to go.
Songs like One Call Away and Losing My Mind begin with the soulful spirit of See You Again, but Puth's half-hearted experiments with a range of musical styles make them forgettable. He brings on Selena Gomez for EDM offering We Don't Talk Anymore, but it lacks the memorable beats and riffs found on, say, Justin Bieber's Purpose.
Puth is at his best when he keeps things simple, like in Up All Night, a sweet ballad about the agony of mind games in love. Suffer is another gem: Puth's falsetto is so stirring it'll give you goosebumps.
There's no denying Puth's talent, but he needs to be bolder to make his mark.