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    Leona Lewis


    Echo 5 ( 2009 )
    Happy / I Got You / Can't Breathe / Brave / Outta My Head / My Hands / Love Letter / Broken / Naked / Stop Crying Your Heart Out / Don't Let Me Down / Alive / Lost Then Found (feat. One Republic)

    Important point number one, the ever accurate Wikipedia describes Leona Lewis as a 'singer/songwriter', so I thought i'd check the validity of this claim. Well, former winners of X-Factor/American Idol aren't exactly known for penning their own top tunes beyond a few co-writes. 'Spirit', the debut Leona Lewis album - the one that's sold in excess of 6.5 million copies for those poor, starving record executives - had thirteen songs and over twenty different songwriters, eighteen studio bods credited with 'engineering' and a further half a dozen or more producers. Leona, for the record had 1 co-writers credit as does Simon Cowel. I know you'll accuse me of being petty, of none of this being of any consequence, but I don't really care for such accusations. Credit where credit is due, Leona is a great singer but like other singers in her category her albums are only as good as the amount of money spent on co-producers, co-writers and engineers.

    'Echo' by the way has 6 tunes where Lewis contributes lyrically yet has a similarly mind-blowing amount of producers, writers and engineers as 'Spirit' did . With such a conglomeration, you'd be forgiven for wondering then why the songs here sound so much alike to each other and to a huge chunk of other commercial pop music these days. You'd wonder, knowing that Leona is undoubtedly a talented vocalist, why she needs the blatant use of auto-tune and other production trickery. You'd wonder why when Aretha Franklin or Dusty Springfield could sound great with just a piano and a bass player why Leona Lewis feels the need for the usual X-Factor/American Idol safety blankets.

    I liked 'Bleeding Love', it was sufficiently different enough to the usual chart fare to announce a major new act. 'Happy' fails to do the same this time around although 'I Got You' definitely does. It's one of the few tunes here where you feel you can sense at least something of Leona's character as an artist. I love the way the chorus presents those ascending high vocal lines, high yet soft. It's definitely a strong tune. Elsewhere, we've a smattering of the usual power ballads, a dance tune or two and mid-tempo pop. Where Leona seemed fresh to American pop lovers in 2007, largely because she was a black british women and the Americans don't have one of those in their charts, 2009 model Leona largely flatters to deceive. The plentiful amount of producers and engineers and no doubt money has only managed to deliver an album with worse production values than the average Mariah Carey LP.

    As for Leona doing dance, 'Outta My Head' sounds so cheesy it may as well be Victoria Beckham. It may also be my imagination, but i'm sure the intention overall for 'Echo' was to present a slightly maturer sound for Leona, as the likes of 'Naked' demonstrates with guitars heavily to the fore. Well, they would be if the overloading of sound didn't reduce the guitars to a mush within the overall Avril Lavigne type sound. Did we also need an Oasis cover with 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out'? Probably not. All in all, for an artist who sold six and a half million copies of her debut, 'Echo' is a frustratingly unsatisfying follow-up that just doesn't have enough distinctiveness or class for an artist of Leona's supposed standing.

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    this page last updated 08/11/09

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