Leona Lewis – Spirit
J Records (4/8/08)
By now, you’ve heard the comparisons to Whitney and Mariah, and as Leona Lewis soars as the newest pop diva of 2008, I think those comparisons are justifiable. Plus, Lewis could be working towards a first-name basis with America, now, as the heavy promotions are paying off. Amid reasons to be impressed and to take notice, currently Leona is the first British female artist ever to debut at #1, the first British artist ever to have her first album debut at #1, and has contributed to the biggest digital-album sales week ever for a new artist.
Her lead-off single, “Bleeding Love”, co-written and produced by OneRepublic frontman Ryan “Alias” Tedder has been dominating the UK charts, and has been quickly approaching the platinum mark. This is the song that is making Leona a household name, showcasing her voice that has the capacity to thrill and move music lovers in ways no one has in years. “Better in Time” continues to march in the Mariah-meets-Alicia-Keys styling, as Leona sings about overcoming the odds to to recover from a tough breakup. “I Will Be”, which has the Celine-Dion-meets-LeAnn-Rimes-type pop quality to it, could easily be a huge country crossover hit if Leona wanted to strip it down to an acoustic version.
“I’m You” integrates experimental pop and R&B beats, making a track reminiscent of Toni Braxton. “Misses Glass” could and should be elevated to the techno charts with some serious remixes because it has huge crossover potential, while Leona is at her invincible best when she builds up ballads like “Angel” (one of the strongest tracks on Spirit), about recognizing the love between two people that touches the heavens. However, as much of a great vocal champion that she is, she should not have sung “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, as it really doesn’t match any of the strong momentum of the album. Leona can sing anything extremely well, but this song should be done as a pre-warmup for her vocals before the show because it just drags without the gravitas of the rest of the set.
“Yesterday” is pretty, uncomplicated and flows well, and again, is another song that could be stripped to an acoustic version successfully. “Whatever It Takes” is poised to be a R&B/pop hit, focusing on self-reliant strength and overcoming adversity, as Leona sings with believability that there is no stopping her. “Take a Bow” is the R&B-dominant track and as I believe she could pull off a heavier R&B sound if she wanted, there is no limit to her talent.
The US release of Spirit also includes two bonus tracks, “Footprints in the Sand” and “Here I Am”—the latter showcasing the reason why Leona Lewis is worlds apart from most of the American pop artists on the charts in the last ten years. She is believably human, making the listener feel what she’s feeling as she’s delivering the goods, with a uniquely exceptional vocal range. Believe the hype, Leona Lewis really is worthy of all the buzz.
Tags: Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston