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Guide price: £7
Last updated on 12th Jan 2010
It’s not often a former Pizza Hut waitress gets to perform on TV (X Factor) then makes a debut album (Spirit) that outsells the Spice Girls’ Greatest Hits compilation two to one. But while the career of Leona Lewis has been an undeniably successful experiment in ‘democratic’ pop, most critics have patiently awaited her sophomore effort before deciding if the singer has what it takes to move beyond a “one album wonder” phenomenon.
Simon Cowell and Clive David have subsequently thrown all their weight behind Echo, bringing in a prodigious team of producers that includes Ryan Tedder, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Rudolf, and 90s hit-maker Max Martin. Strangely, this hasn’t yielded much in the way of diversity. With a couple of exceptions – the surprisingly upbeat electro song “Outta My Head” for example - Echo plays it safe with a mix of slowies (“Can’t Breathe”, “My Hands”), plenty of power ballads (the single “Happy,” “I Got You,” “Broken,” and Timberlake duet “Don’t Let Me Down”) - and a bit of bouncier saccharine pop such as “Love Letter” and “Naked”.
There’s no question that some of these songs are good, and that Lewis’ vocal talents are impressive.
But ultimately the unadventurous arrangements and lack of risk-taking in general renders Echo merely a capable instead of a truly dynamic record. The jury, it seems, is still out.--Danny McKenna