Monday, October 19, 2009
Album Review: Alexandra Burke - Overcome (3.5/5)
Last years' X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke was in danger of being dubbed a Leona Lewis wannabe or to look at it in a positive light, the next Leona, and at a glance why wouldn't she? Her victory single, "Hallelujah," sold by the bucket loads as did Lewis', "A Moment Like This." The single obviously wasn't a clear indication to the sound Burke would pursue on her first album and neither was Lewis'. A year later (around this time) Lewis discovered her sound, contemporary adult-pop that's still appealing to the teens, for her first album, Spirit, so presumably it's expected that Burke would trail the same route, as it's a foolproof formula.
But that's where the comparisons halt. First single and album opener, "Bad Boys," (with Flo Rida) a jaunty, uptempo R&B and pop number, couldn't be a more different sound to Leona's first single, "Bleeding Love." Fixed with solid verses and a big chorus that sticks. So, Burke's first album, Overcome, is a mix of power ballads and up-tempos, although not everything works and some songs, however fall quite short.
The album opens quite strongly with "Bad Boys," before moving swiftly into "Good Night Good Morning," with Ne-Yo, establishing a great downbeat, drum and bass sound, backed with moments of synth and a vocally harsh chorus, that essentially drives the song towards the end with the repetition of the opening lyrics: "This beat is crazy," as the bassline thumps intricately behind each syllable. Surprisingly Ne-Yo's feature doesn't overshadow Burke, it is almost like he's not even there. I've heard it's being considered for a second single and as it should it's a great song. Third track "The Silence" is the albums biggest belter. A haunting ballad that emphasizes both on beautiful orchestration and Burke's wide vocal range.
Other good tracks include "All Night Long," which endows a nice blend of club and spacey, dance-pop--think the female version of Chris Brown's "Forever." Taking on the sound of Alesha Dixon's single, "Boy Does Nothing," is "Broken Heels," which carries the same jaunty essence. It's pretty good, probably the most unstricken fun on here.
The Pixie Lott written "You Broke My Heart" is my favorite track on here, it's the albums other biggest belter. It's classic British pop, backed with live sounding drums, hand claps, tambourines and horns. Burke's vocal performance on here is immaculate also. Another favorite is the retro and slightly 90's disco reminiscent, "Nothing But the Girl," backed with crashing synth lines and a heavy, pondering bassline--It also a pretty neat melody It sounds like something Whitney Houston would sing, maybe if it was stripped down a little.
Whilst I do like a good amount of the album there is quite a large amount I don't like or have yet to grow to. First up is, "Bury Me (Six Feet Under)," which carries a nice '60s sound, but irritates quickly--so does the bleepy and quite annoying, "Dumb." Mid-tempo, "Gotta Go," is better but it's greatly forgettable. Title track, "Overcome," the only part of the album where she sounds like an X-Factor contestant, sounds like an updated retread of Mariah Carey's "Anytime You Need A Friend."
Without the bonus tracks, the album closes with the likable piano ballad "They Don't Know," It's not bad, it's more lyrically compelling than anything else. In all, a very decent debut--It's varied not concetrating on style of music, which is always very good and despite the flaws mentioned above the album does have some good highlights.
Best: You Broke My Heart, The Silence, Bad Boys, All Night Long, Good Night Good Morning, Broken Heels, Nothing But the Girl, They Don't Know