Almost seven years in the biz and three years since her last album 'echoed' in our ears, with the exception of Hurt pleasantly filling the cold space in between, Leona Lewis has returned with her third studio album, Glassheart.
There's no second guessing when it comes to the natural talent of this British songstress. She has hits to shut you up with. But with several delays, including coping with the restructuring of her record label, will third time really be a charm for the soulful lady? Let's analyze:
“I told you you should never follow me. But here we are, and you’re in too deep. I’m a whole lot of trouble” croons Leona in the opening number, appropriately titled ‘Trouble‘. The song’s nicely done; not over-the-top, but not too reserved. I’d say its intriguing nature rests highly on those dramatic keys, haunting strings and alluring vocals flowing effortlessly along with the hip hop, electropop mashup beat. Trouble depicts the sad side to a relationship, which is actually inspired by the singer’s own past love. That little fact makes the song even more personal and more emotionally charged. I believe the music video plays out the lyrics impeccably well.
Unlove Me continues where the first left off. The relationship is just not working and she knows she has to let go, but in her heart she still wants him to be the one even though its wrong to do so. The pop driven track has solid lyrics and an energetic beat, but offers nothing on the wow factor. A good song in itself, yes, just nothing fantastic. That high pitch ‘unlove me’ repeating in the bridge wasn’t pleasant to my ears either.
After all the back and forth in the relationship, Lovebird portrays a liberated Leona who finally found the strength to let go. Her heart has been set free and she no longer suffers. Throughout the entire song you can feel her new found freedom and how happy she is to be unchained. With every word Lewis pulls you along on her adventure and you can’t help but connect with her on this one. From the musical arrangement to her loosened tones, the song is completely alive. Exceptionally done.
So far the album stayed on an uptempo path with the intensified use of snare drums ever present on her records. Not that you’ll feel tired, because the top three are energetic though on the bittersweet side. But I’m sure by now we’d all want some variety, and an electronized number was quite a surprise.
Dubstep is hot, but the genre doesn’t always come out that way in every song it’s incorporated in. Experimenting is very risky for any artist no matter how bold one is to try something different and a bit unexpected. Fortunately, Come Alive had satisfying results. I believe Leona describes it best, because this song is indeed like “fire through my veins“. Not sure about the concept in comparison to the previous, though. Because the singer has gone from letting him go to now pouring her heart out about wanting his love, which evidently brings her to life if she’s singing out more than ever. One could also interpret this track as being a new start; Leona has found another that has captivated her in every way. Whatever the case, the track showcases a sexy side to the singer. And that techno crossover is absolutely brilliant. Production wise, the song is off the hook. This has the potential to become an album single.
Ballads, where art thou?
Leona is unleashed on the soulful and passionate Fireflies. The indispensable quality of this track warms the air with its spiritual influence. You’re bound to get enamored by those piano melodies and a smooth toned Lewis in the opening verse, and later getting utterly swept away by her electrifying notes in wild abandon that tug on your heart towards the end.
I To You is sure to leave you breathless, that’s if you ignore its resemblance to Alicia Keys’ Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart in the beginning, and allow those evocative strings to wrap themselves around you. In fact, the song is drenched in a heavenly orchestral arrangement of strings complimenting Leona’s sensual and raw voice. Hard to describe such an indescribable track. The message conveyed is worth, and what exactly you mean to the person you’ve sacrificed a lot for but who seems to hurt you regardless.
Turn the music up!
The 80’s pop influenced Shake You Up kicks in at the right time to pull listeners out of the sad and defeated state into a more confident and determined drive, while moving your body on the dance floor as well. Though the production took the old school route, modern pop elements are intertwined in the mix to add a fresh sound. The song is definitely about being fed up. She’s ready to move on from it all because he’s undeserving of her love.
And its back to what she does so well…
Stop the Clocks delivers a less than powerful arrangement of pop rudiments but her honey like voice soars sweetly and makes up for the tamed electro beat. But while Favourite Scar has urban aspects fused with pop and hip hop elements, the repetitive nature couldn’t win me over. Aside from that, both served up far from generic lyrics like the previous tracks.
Any song that starts out with “I am numb to the pain…” is definitely going to be about heartbreak. And there’s plenty of those in Leona’s music from the beginning of her career. But once When It Hurts starts playing who can resist the unavoidable force that resounds in her voice, and those inviting melodies that you just have to drown yourself in. The song describes the suffering one goes through in a stressful relationship, and how difficult it is to cope once it ends. The addition of an electric guitar adds emphasis on the emotion behind Leona’s singing, where the truth lies.
Glassheart revitalizes that particular vigor left in Come Alive, possibly because both tracks are dubstep techno fused. The midtempos were delightful while they lasted but I felt as if I was drowning in sorrow and in overwhelming love. So, an uptempo title track was a great idea and impressive switch from all that pain. It’s nice to know Lewis can take on dance; a notion previously demonstrated in the hypnotic Collide and intoxicating Outta My Head from Echo. I enjoyed the dance number a great deal but like all the other tracks has nothing on the incomparable Fingerprint.
The closing track just had to be a ballad, one that’s possessing at that. Leona smooths in on a low but mesmerizing tone while gently poised over ethereal keys, a reverberating yet deeply set drumbeat, and once more the use of storytelling strings. The song’s about loving no one else like that one person, and appreciating all the things that make him irreplaceable. A message that causes heat-rush whenever her voice takes off immensely. I’d say Fingerprint‘s sole purpose was to give a raw display of the singer’s vocal ability. Did it succeed? I believe so.
*A bonus version of Trouble, featuring Childish Gambino, is included on the regular version but its presence is questionable as the rapper’s far from entertaining addition did nothing to make the track hotter than it already is. And of course, you could indulge yourself further in Leona’s sensuality as she calms things down and give you an acoustic session you’ll never forget on the deluxe version. But I must say, though I didn’t before, the title track’s hook in its slower form sounds mighty similar to another huge Ryan Tedder penned song. No need for names, just listen.
Glassheart is an enjoyable third release from the pop artist. The album doesn’t exactly signify growth in terms of concept, because of the reoccurring theme of issues with love in her songs. But the lyrics aren’t recycled either, and it’s interesting to see Leona challenging herself by bringing in a few tracks from outside of the norm. And I’m curious to hear what she’s going to do next, as I’m still waiting for a solid release that I can classify as epic.
02. Unlove Me
04. Come Alive
06. I to You
07. Shake You Up
08. Stop the Clocks
09. Favourite Scar
10. When it Hurts
13. Trouble ft. Childish Gambino *bonus track
Credit: google images