Title - 'Spirit' (J-Records)
Artist - Leona Lewis
Being an Anglophile I had purchased both the original UK version and had the US version handed to me for a review comparison. In my opinion, the UK version is slightly superior, but that aside, the US album is still better than the rest of the competition. I do have to say that leaving out 'Homeless' WAS A BIG MISTAKE!. Check out her live performance of it at the Kiss concert on YT.
The thing about Leona Lewis is that she can make any material sound better than it really is! As another reviewer mentioned, she is often better than some of the songs she sings! This in itself is a gift, not many vocalists can sing with such emotional depth and connect with the listener to such an extent that a mediocre song can be elevated into something great.
As a vocalist, no one can deny her talent. The comparisons with the Greats: Whitney, Celine, Mariah etc whether positive or negative are proof that we have a future candidate to add to this list. The fact that people ARE making comparisons, speaks volumes of her talent.
Besides Bleeding Love, Take A Bow has the potential to be a MASSIVE hit. Better In Time, I will be, Yesterday, Whatever it takes, Footprints in the sand all have the potential to be singles. In fact there are very few, non-single songs on this album.
Personally, Yesterday is my favorite. Upon the initial listenings of the album, it's very easy to overlook this gem! I certainly did, but like a lot of this album, it's a definite grower. Anyway, what makes this song amazing is the build up from the middle-8 right to the end. It's just THE perfect combination of meaningful lyrics, instrumentation, vocal arrangement and off course, all anchored by Leona's vocal emotion.
Footprints in the sand is a curiousity, but emotionally fuelled, once again hilighting her vocals. Viewing the UK music video (on YouTube) for this song, puts things in perspective. Angel is my least favorite. A very, very dull song indeed, only made marginally passable by Leona's vocals.
First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, is a disappointment. Her live performance of this song is phenominal. Unfortunately it doesn't translate. It may be that my opinion is clouded here as I first saw her sing this live on TV, rather than on CD.
Overall, this is a good debut, songwise, but vocally it is a masterclass, not because of her technically ability (although this is noteworthy) but mainly because she can connect with the listener. Believe me, I feel everything she conveys! There is such depth and emotion to her voice. Add this to her ability to elevate songs into another perspective and her outstanding live performances and you have a superstar in the making!