No “Echo” of praise for Leona Lewis

“Echo” is the newest arrival from rags-to-riches diva Leona Lewis. The 2006 “X Factor” winner’s first album, “Spirit,” left critics unfulfilled in spite of its great technical accomplishments. The last album was received as an over-manufactured, substance-less spotlight on the singer’s vocal prowess. It lacked soul.

This newest album attempts to provide audiences the variety for which they have yearned – enlisting the diverse talents of Justin Timberlake, Ryan Tedder and countless others. In addition to the big, vocally rich ballads for which Lewis is known, “Echo” features several upbeat ‘80s disco-inspired songs. It also briefly recalls themes from more recent pop successes like Rihanna’s hit, “Umbrella,” and co-writer Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.”

Arguably, Lewis is one of the most vocally skilled artists in all of current pop music. Nonetheless, her popularity pales in comparison to the cult followings of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and other peers. This is because her sophomore album has exactly the same flaw as her first one – a dire lack of intrigue. In the sea of current artists who are branded by sass, crass and quirkiness, Lewis’ artistry is bland. Both “Spirit” and “Echo” rely far too much on Lewis’ voice, adding nothing else to the picture.

While she can sing the same stratospheric high notes as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, Lewis does so with little of their sass or edge. Her songs tend to be lackluster testimonies to heartache and loss: technically safe pieces that show off her vocal talents to the fullest.

Lewis has seen great success thus far, but reliance on a pretty voice may not be enough to keep her career afloat. While “Echo” is far from fresh, it is indeed a decent attempt in the right direction. It shows tremendous growth, far more variety, and even a bit more soul than her first album.

One thing is certain: Lewis needn’t worry about the traditional “sophomore slump” with this album. While the recently-released single, “Happy,” has yet to set the international charts ablaze, it is enjoying moderate rotation, and is featured in the trailer for “Precious,” an upcoming blockbuster. Certainly, the popularity of “Echo” will grow in the coming weeks and months. Additionally, several tracks that haven’t made their way onto the album show great accomplishment and potential for an exhilarating “b-sides” release.

“Echo” paves the way for whatever Lewis’ next release may be. The prospect of further collaboration with other big-name artists in addition to her healthy pattern of artistic growth foster high hopes for Leona Lewis’ next big move.

Samson Mobashar can be reached at samson.mobashar@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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