Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leona Lewis - Echo

If you know me and my taste in music really, REALLY well, you'll know that Leona is not someone I like and she's not someone I jump up and down over. However I gave Echo a shot because I'd heard a lot of fellow bloggers comment on it and I was curious. Very, VERY surprisingly - I have good things to say about the album.

For me the ultimate test of a pop song is if it can catch my attention when I'm doing something other than listen to the song. I rarely listen to albums like this because most of the time I don't notice them and end up re-listening to the album anyway but I did this with the Leona album (you could say it was to give the album a hard time but it wasn't intentional) and dammit, it caught my ear. I was in the middle of shopping and then BAM I heard the tracks and was like "Oh dear, this is good."

So I like the album as a whole but my one complaint is that this album is how every other pop album is with me - crappy singles, great album tracks. I don't like Happy, I never will and if I hadn't seen the reviews and just based the whole thing on Happy I would've still been really annoyed with Leona.

Echo as a whole in one word is heavy. The melodies are serious, instrumentations sound epic and Leona's vocals are very, very heavy to the ear. I honestly haven't heard an album like this in quite a while because I'm not a fan of albums that don't have any 'breather songs' or those songs that just give you a break. To a certain extent this was what I was expecting from Leona but I didn't expect the heaviness to be done pretty damn well. The reason why I don't enjoy a lot of these really serious and 'heavy' songs is because they're not done well and leave me with the headache after. The stuff on Echo aren't like that. I'm not saying that the entire album is musically the best thing since anything - it's not - I'm just saying that the execution of the songs (not the vocals) is really good for what they are.

My one problem with Leona is a problem I've had for a long time now - I don't like her voice. It's not that she's not good or that she can't sing, if you've read my vocal commentaries you would've noticed that I don't necessarily favor big, excessive voices. It's a personal preference that I don't like voices like this but I don't know, if the album had been sung by a person with a predominantly smooth voice and a nice timbre, I would've literally fell at it's feet.

Here's a quick rundown of the songs I haven't talked about yet. I've already said my piece on Happy, right? OK.

I Got You was the first song that made me stop what I was doing, turn up the volume and just listen. The feel of the entire thing reminds me of something straight out of a Paula Cole album - the guitar and keyboard sections in the instrumentation, the arrangement and the actual melody of the chorus all point towards a certain singer named Paula Cole. I think that's why it caught my attention in the first place.

Can't Breathe is one of those songs that if done the wrong way can sound very resonant to the ear, mostly on the melody side. I'm glad to say it was done right. The song seems to me like a show-off song - one that's meant to rub it in our faces that Leona can go that high that many times. I'm not impressed though - so what if she can hit high notes like that? But I gotta hand it to her, the verses sound phenomenal.

At the start Brave sounded like a song I wouldn't particularly enjoy and it takes time to turn into a brilliant song - you have this Indian-y thing going in before the melody of the chorus just makes you melt. The whole song has an Indian-ish vibe and I'm not feeling the verses but the chorus is pretty good. Outta My Head is a little resonant to my ears but the more techno-ish arrangement and the hook will stick. I wouldn't listen to it over and over again though.

My Hands is the obligatory simple-turned-epic ballad. The start is a little iff-y but the chorus onwards is beautiful - I can imagine her singing this on an X Factor Results Show. Am I right or am I right? Love Letter is a little out of place on the album with the heavy electric guitar part and the stomping beat during the bridge. The chorus is a little anti-climatic but the melody is pretty good. Nothing to gush about though.

Broken is the 'girl trapped in a castle playing the piano running around in a big, black gown' song - that's basically what the music video will look like if the record executives had their way which they do. Big, epic, has a piano part and heavy drums. What more do you need for a castle in the music video? Naked was the only track I listened to twice while I was out - it's fresh, the guitar part at the start sets the mood and the chorus just explodes. Love the melody, love the arrangement and the girl can take on Taylor Swift's Picture to Burn any day with the chorus of this song. Brilliant.

Now the Oasis song. It's epic, it's beautiful and it builds up slowly - it's not my type though. Musically it's very, very good but if I were to just base it on my personal preferences, this is a NO. It's beautiful though. Don't Let Me Down is my favorite of the ballads like this on the album - epic, gorgeous melody and Leona's best vocals are on this track in particular. Once again, brilliant. Alive is another ballad, it's gorgeous and the start reminds me of a Coldplay song. if you put it beside Don't Let Me Down though, it pales in comparison. ALTHOUGH, it's a lot more rock-based so it's not really a valid comparison. And lastly, the OneRepublic song is a OneRepublic song. Enough said.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Don't Let Me Down
Better Tracks: I Got You, Naked, My Hands
My Least Favorite Track: Personally? Lost Then Found. Mainly because it's more OneRepublic than Leona.

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