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Letters is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter and guitarist Matt Cardle. It was released on 14 October 2011 through Syco Music, Sony Music and Columbia Records. Cardle worked with various songwriters on the album including Eg White and James Walsh. He co-wrote all the tracks except for his X Factor winner's single, "When We Collide" and the single "Run for Your Life", written by Gary Barlow.

Studio album by
Released14 October 2011 (2011-10-14)
GenrePop rock
LabelSyco, Sony, Columbia
ProducerGary Barlow, Jon Green, Ash Howes, Eliot James, Richard "Biff" Stannard, Phil Thornalley, James Walsh, Jeremy Wheatley, Eg White
Matt Cardle chronology
The Fire
Singles from Letters
  1. "When We Collide"
    Released: 12 December 2010
  2. "Run for Your Life"
    Released: 10 October 2011
  3. "Starlight"
    Released: 4 December 2011
  4. "Amazing"
    Released: 19 February 2012

It peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart, behind Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' self-titled debut album. The Letters Tour in support of the album began in February 2012.



After winning the seventh series of TV talent competition The X Factor, it was announced on 15 March 2011 that Cardle had signed a record deal with Simon Cowell's Syco Music, in a joint venture with Columbia Records, becoming the first X Factor winner not to be exclusively signed to Cowell's label.[1] Cardle soon began work on his debut studio album, which just days after his X Factor win, was slated for release on 24 October 2011. On 18 August 2011, Cardle made his first official announcement regarding the album. He announced its title to be Letters, and the debut single from the album would be a Gary Barlow-penned track, "Run for Your Life". During an interview given on the day of the announcement, Cardle revealed the name of several album tracks, and the process behind writing them: "Starlight is a depressing, yet happy song about the insignificance of everything. Amazing is 'bout finding someone when you've got no-one. All for Nothing is one I wrote with my favourite all-time songwriter, Eg White. I recorded it after a couple of cups of tea and a few cigarettes, so it's quite raw."

In September 2011, it was revealed that "Run for Your Life" would be released on 10 October 2011, and the album's release was pushed forward a week to 17 October, due to popular demand from fans. Cardle appeared on the BBC Breakfast show on 1 September to give a preview of the video. The single was premiered in full on The Chris Moyles Show on 5 September 2011. The video was then premiered in full on 5 September on his YouTube channel. The single was released on 9 October 2011, Cardle performed the song on The X Factor on the same day. He also performed another track from the album, "All For Nothing", on ITV2 show The Xtra Factor. Prior to the album release Cardle went on a five date tour ending on 3 October at Koko in London. On 15 October a documentary on the making of the album entitled Into The Light was broadcast on ITV2.


Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Irish Independent          [2]
The Daily Telegraph     [3]
Daily Star          [4]
What Culture     [5]
The Guardian     [6]
The Observer     [7]

Upon its release, Letters received mixed reviews from critics. Daily Express said that Cardle's vocals were "versatile and emotional" and the songs were "more than decent."[8] The Irish Independent gave Letters eight out of ten, noting Cardle's "impressive falsetto."[9] The BBC gave an unfavourable review, calling Letters "over-produced" and "a barrage of formulaically chugging soft-rock structures and overwhelming strings."[10] The Daily Telegraph claimed that Cardle's vocals sound "off-key"[11] while Digital Spy rated it two out of five stars, faulting the album for "mushy, MOR soft-rock production."[12] "Letters" was described by The Sun as "a collection of guitar riffed and string sectioned smashes, reminiscent of Snow Patrol's biggest hits". Title track "Letters" is reminiscent to Coldplay's "Fix You", with Cardle employing a "Chris Martin-styled falsetto".[13] The Financial Times gave the album one out of five stars, calling it "woefully formulaic, instantly forgettable debut album full of manufactured drama."[14] The Guardian gave the album two out of five, calling Letters "an album of triumphal power ballads."[15] The Observer rated it three out of five, calling the album "widescreen guitar pop based around overwrought choruses that demand gurning as they're belted."[16] The Daily Star rated it six out of ten stars, calling it a "disappointment" with "so many samey ballads that Matt himself starts to sound bored"; however, the review did concede that "he can do mature ballads to perfection," as evidenced by the song "Faithless."[17]

The Daily Record, called the album "fantastic" and "classic," saying it had "exceeded all expectations."[18] Pop Ledge rated Letters three out of ten, calling the over-all album "boring" and "too formulaic" while naming "Starlight" and "Stars and Lovers" as stand-out tracks and concluding with "We feel for Matt Cardle – he has talked often of the sort of artist he wants to be and it’s not this album."[19] The Yorker noted that while there was "nothing especially awful" about "Letters", tracks were "instantly forgettable" and "utterly boring."[20] BigLiveActs said "Letters" was "a must for Matt Cardle and X Factor fans but not much here to interest the rest of us" and suggests "A number of the songs would have been better treated with a quiet acoustic backing to Matt's voice...Presumably the end result was the wish of the producers and not Matt Cardle himself.[21] Philip Elwood's blog Entertainment Focus rated it four out of five, calling it a "solid debut" and a "fantastic record."[22] What Culture? awarded the album three stars, and stated that Cardle "is a very, very good singer", concluding that the album is "Solid, at times verging on very good, but ultimately inconsistent and bland."[23] In its review, Female First, an online "celebrity gossip and lifestyle magazine," concluded that "'Letters', in all honesty, isn't a particularly adventurous record," but predicted it "will go some way to help [Cardle] establish himself as a serious musician and song-writer."[24] According to the reviewer for Cosmoplitan magazine, "[t]he 13-track album is every bit the epic, power-ballad compilation I could’ve wished for. Big, belting choruses, meaningful lyrics and plenty of high notes to make women swoon."[25] Orange UK gave the album a very favorable review, choosing "Letters" and "Beat of a Breaking Heart" as stand-out tracks, while praising Cardle's "excellent", "stunning", and "heartfelt" vocals[26] Despite the mixed reviews, in December 2011, "Letters" and "Starlight" were voted album and song of the year by readers of The Guardian.[27]

Commercial performanceEdit

The album sold more than 70,000 copies in the week of release, peaking at number two on the UK Albums Chart behind Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds's self-titled debut album.


  • "When We Collide", Cardle's X Factor winner's single, is included as the final track on the album. It was released on 12 December 2010. The single contained Cardle's live performances of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Just the Way You Are" and "Nights in White Satin", as performed on The X Factor.
  • "Run for Your Life" was released as the album's official lead single on 10 October 2011.[28] Written by Gary Barlow, it became Cardle's second consecutive top ten single when it peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart on the week of release. The single contained two previously unreleased tracks, "Lost and Found" and "Chemical", as its B-sides.
  • "Starlight" was released as the album's second official single on 4 December 2011. The single performed very poorly compared to Cardle's previous singles, only peaking at number 185 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • "Amazing" was released as the album's third official single on 19 February 2012 and peaked at number 84 on the UK Singles chart. The single was released as an EP with an all-new song called "All Is Said", written by Cardle, James Walsh and Eliot James, a newly recorded studio version of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", and a live version of "Slowly" recorded at KOKO in October 2011.[29]

Track listingEdit

Standard edition[30]
1."Starlight"Matt Cardle, Ash Howes, Richard Stannard, Seton DauntStannard, Howes4:18
2."Run for Your Life"Gary BarlowBarlow, Stannard, Howes4:04
3."All for Nothing"Cardle, Francis WhiteWhite, Jeremy Wheatley[a]3:23
4."Pull Me Under"Cardle, James Walsh, Eliot JamesWalsh, James3:40
5."Amazing"Cardle, Tom Leonard, Martin Harrington, Howes, StannardStannard, Howes3:59
6."Faithless"Cardle, Walsh, JamesWalsh, James3:49
7."Beat of a Breaking Heart"Cardle, Howes, Stannard, DauntStannard, Howes3:51
8."Stars & Lovers"Cardle, Phil Thornalley, Jon GreenPhil Thornalley, Jon Green, Stannard[a]3:39
9."Letters"Cardle, Howes, Stannard, David Sneddon, James Bauer-MeinStannard, Howes4:26
10."Reflections"Cardle, Walsh, JamesWalsh, James3:36
11."Walking on Water"Cardle, Adam Argyle, Iain James, Michael PaynterStannard, Howes2:54
12."Slowly"Cardle, White, SneddonWhite3:29
13."When We Collide"Simon NeilStannard, Howes3:48
Total length:48:56
  • ^a signifies an additional producer
  • ^b Offered as a free download to customers who purchased Letters before 15 October 2011.

Charts and certificationsEdit

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label
Ireland[39] 14 October 2011 Digital download, CD Syco, Sony, Columbia
United Kingdom[40] 17 October 2011


  1. ^ "Si Cardles up to Columbia". The Sun. London. 15 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' – Album review". Irish Independent. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  3. ^ Lachno, James (13 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' – Album review". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  4. ^ Earls, John (17 October 2011). "Matt Cardle – 'Letters' Review". Daily Star. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  5. ^ Charity, Brian (20 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' – review". What Culture. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (13 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' – review". Entertainment Focus. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  7. ^ Hoby, Hermione (16 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' – review". Observer. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  8. ^ "CD Review - Matt Cardle: Letters, (Sony)". 14 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  9. ^ "This week's album reviews". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Matt Cardle Letters Review". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  11. ^ Lachno, James (13 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: Letters, CD review". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  12. ^ "Matt Cardle: 'Letters' - Album review". 20 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  13. ^ Smart, Gordon (18 August 2011). "Matt Cardle debut tunes totally rock". The Sun. London. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  14. ^ "Matt Cardle: Letters". 15 October 2011.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (14 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: Letters – review". The Guardian. London.
  16. ^ Hoby, Hermione (16 October 2011). "Matt Cardle: Letters – review". The Guardian. London.
  17. ^ "Matt Cardle – Letters: Album Review". 17 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Matt Cardle – Letters: Album Review". Daily Record. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Album Review: Matt Cardle - Letters". Pop Ledge. 18 October 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Matt Cardle - Letters". The Yorker. 21 October 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  21. ^ "Album Review: Matt Cardle - Letters". Big Live Acts. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Matt Cardle - Letters". Entertainment Focus. Archived from the original on 28 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  23. ^ Charity, Brian (20 October 2011). "Matt Cardle – Letters CD Album Review". What Culture. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013.
  24. ^ McGeorge, Alistair (19 October 2011). "Album Review: Matt Cardle – Letters". Female First.
  25. ^ "Cosmo's pick of the best entertainment this week!". 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013.
  26. ^ "Matt Cardle - 'Letters'". Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  27. ^ Boult, Adam (23 December 2011). "The best albums and songs of 2011, as voted by readers". The Guardian. London.
  28. ^ "iTunes Store".
  29. ^ "iTunes Store".
  30. ^ a b "Matt Cardle Music -". Matt Cardle Music.
  31. ^ "Sparks".
  32. ^ "Letters (Special Pre-order Edition)".
  33. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 42, 2011". Chart-Track. IRMA.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  36. ^ "Official Album Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  37. ^ Jones, Alan (21 November 2015). "Official Charts Analysis: Justin Bieber takes singles summit but misses out on albums". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  38. ^ "British album certifications – Matt Cardle – Letters". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Letters in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  39. ^ "iTunes Store".
  40. ^ "Letters: Matt Cardle: Music". Retrieved 21 August 2011.