Leona Lewis: Echo

RIYL: Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson

Leona Lewis has a beautiful voice – clear, strong, and remarkably non-susceptible to the sort of melismatic dicking around that far too many pop vocalists seem to think passes for singing. It’s the type of voice that begs to be dropped in front of a sympathetic band and some truly tremendous material, and using it to record synthetically produced, pleasantly anonymous pop songs is a little like bringing a cannon to a knife fight: a tremendous waste of perfectly good ammo. Of course, not every song can be a standard, but c’mon – Sony BMG is one of the biggest corporations on Earth, and they can definitely afford better material than the middle-of-the-road fluff Lewis is saddled with here. She’s definitely game – in fact, her voice rings so brightly that she almost manages to transcend the uniform ordinariness of the material – but the ultimate effect is never more than mindlessly entertaining. Which is probably precisely the point of an album that was clearly assembled with such an eye toward big-picture chart domination that the finer details – like finding great songs, for instance, or not lumping Lewis’ gourmet voice in with a duet partner as proudly, generically vanilla as OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder – were somehow forgotten. Echo is fine, for what it is – but like Lewis’ similarly pedestrian debut, it could have been much, much more. (RCA/19 2009)

Leona Lewis MySpace page


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