As if winning the third season of the UK’s “X-Factor” wasn’t enough, Leona Lewis earned herself the privilege of becoming the first female British singer in more than 20 years to go to number 1 on U.S. charts with her hit single, “Bleeding Love.”
On the heels of her new found success, the 23-year-old singer released her debut album, “Spirit.”
The single “Bleeding Love” is a pop power ballad with dark lyrics. In the song she sings of a love so strong that it cuts her open and she bleeds continuously over an organ and synthesized drumbeat.
Surprisingly the song was co-written by pop singer Jesse McCartney and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder.
An odd follow up to “Bleeding Love” is the song “Whatever It Takes.” This song sounds like a modern version of Celine Dion’s hit “That’s the Way It Is.” Just as Dion’s does, the song suddenly takes on a pop-gospel twist with a choir joining in.
Despite the excellent arrangements and melodies throughout the album, which was co-executive produced by Simon Cowell and Clive Davis, it is overloaded with sappy ballads that seem to age the singer at least a decade, causing her to lose her appeal with younger listeners.
Many of the songs on “Spirit” fall into the same pattern of starting off slow as Lewis sings to a piano and as the song progresses she begins to belt at the top of her lungs followed up by a choir.
“Yesterday” and “Footprints in the Sand” both fall into this category.
While her range is impressive, after the first few examples of this, it becomes just as predictable as Cowell wearing a plain v-neck T-shirt every week on American Idol.
Things begin to liven up a bit when the song “Take a Bow” opens up with cords reminiscent to a Timbaland driven track (think of his work with Justin Timberlake on “Cry Me A River”).
Things move to the R’B side with the mid-tempo song “I’m You” which was written by singer Ne-Yo who has written hits for just about everyone including Beyonc’eacute;, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, and Dion. The production on this track is a much needed change of pace.
If the goal of Cowell and Davis were to bring back the days of the power ballad, then the mission was accomplished.
Constant comparisons to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera will send people out in droves to pick up the CD. While they can’t deny the talent that Lewis has, one thing is certain and that is that unfortunately, “Spirit” lacks spirit.
Hopefully by her next release she will have officially graduated from Mariah Carey training school and will have found her own identity.