After the disappointing reception to her sophomore album Echo, Leona Lewis took some time out of the spotlight to reinvent herself before the release of her follow up disc, Glassheart. She tried the top forty dance-pop route on the Avicii-sampling “Collide”, but when the single failed to make an impact, Le-Lew pushed the album back almost an entire year to find another chart-friendly direction that would actually work. She settled on an assortment of trendy British sounds, from dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass to the gritty soul made popular by Emeli Sandé, while still saving room for a few big pop diva ballads.
Leona has the voice of an angel, but she’s about as interesting as a conversation with an 85-year-old pensioner, so Glassheart works best when the production is big and busy enough to compensate for her lack of charisma. The title track, with its wallops of dubstep and thumping club beat, is an utter stormer and the undeniable standout of the album. The songstress also finds success dabbling in the ’80s, serving up an irresistibly catchy slice of plinky synth-pop on the Darkchild-produced “Shake You Up”, while “Favorite Scar” soars thanks to a fantastic sample of the Tears For Fears classic “Head over Heels”.
Where Leona stumbles is on Glassheart’s many muddy midtempos, most of which fall victim to predictably schmaltzy lyrics and unconvincing angst. “When It Hurts” and “Stop the Clocks” should be sent straight to the recycle bin, and the laughably melodramatic “I to You” is virtually unlistenable.
The album’s two slowest songs, “Fireflies” and “Fingerprints”, aren’t the greatest ballads ever recorded, but Leona’s pristine voice is still able to elevate them high into the heavens. Her vocal ability is so impeccable that it even makes up for her complete lack of personality and star power. Well, almost.
Glassheart is supposed to introduce an edgier, more artistic Leona Lewis to the masses, but all it really does it remind you just how mediocre she is. Bless her heart and all, but Le-Lew simply lacks the spark that shines so bright in her fellow divas like Mariah and Celine, and with an album that isn’t exactly The Emancipation of Mimi, there’s not a whole lot to gain from Glassheart.
My good advice? Download it, save the title track and the few other standouts, and bin the rest.
Download: Glassheart, Favorite Scar, Shake You Up, Lovebird
Delete: I to You, Stop the Clocks
For fans of: X Factor contestants, Celine Dion, Emeli Sandé