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Leona Lewis - Echo

2009-12-14 16:22

No: Lihle Jacobs
Rating: 3

Echo proves that Leona Lewis is still delivering only what everyone expects of her, just like on her debut.

In a sea of big-lunged ballads and sky pitched harmonisations one wonders if there lies anything more to Leona Lewis than a Simon Cowell/Clive Davis engineered baby Mariah-Whitney hybrid.

While her debut Spirit dutifully met all the record exec expectations, albeit a little too perfectly, Echo is slightly more youthful, catchier and a little bit more revealing.

As expected she reunites with Ryan Tedder (One Republic) who penned her biggest hit "Bleeding Love". He's written three of the thirteen tracks on Echo including the lead single "Happy" which, with its distorted drums and keyboard overload, sounds just a little too much like "Bleeding Love".

There's no escaping that voice, though. Her staccatos on the hook of "Can't Breathe" are infectious and her ability to reach sky-scraper notes without screeching is a marvel. "Brave" is her most sincere effort to date, as she professes "I'm so afraid to fall and surrender I'm not brave, I’m not brave". Over dawdling Arabic rhythms you can almost see a glimpse of a vulnerable young woman still trying to find herself.

However, we're still getting more of the record company manufactured pop darling and not enough of the young woman carving her own identity.

Yes: Sam Brighton
Rating: 4

This isn't the Leona I remember. Spirit's Leona Lewis was an eager-to-please puppy singing songs that didn't relate to her life ("Bleeding Love" – she's happily involved with her plumber boyfriend) or fit her sassy, young R&B queen style ("The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face").

Echo's Leona is hungrier and happier than ever before. Just listen to the fantastic first single, "Happy". She sings "I gotta find my place / I wanna hear my sound". Sounds like a big middle finger to all the expectations thrust upon her after the X Factor win.

"Alive" also seems to hint at her need to break away from something. It may seem like an ambitious post-rocky relationship anthem, but it's a little hard to believe when her love-life seems picture perfect. Maybe it's all smoke and mirrors, but none of it can hide her massive talent, which could so easily be exploited.

Leona is also very much aware of her status in the 'biz, and she's not above doing covers. She reinterprets Oasis' "Stop Crying Your Heart Out", taking it down a few beats and proving that Britain's got more than talent, it's got soul. What an impressive, intelligent choice, no matter who made it.

This is a bold, brave album that is just really a taster of all that's yet to come from Britain's bombshell.

Does Britain's darling reality show diva have anything new to offer since her debut two years ago? The X Factor judges don't always agree, and neither do our staff. We bring you two different opinions on Leona's latest.

What to read next: Kalahari
Read more on:    sony music  |  leona lewis

Clint 2009-12-28 09:56 PM
  • Rating:
Top album... just downloaded the CD and the bonus tracks. She is a true singer and I can't wait to see her live on her World Tour.

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