Rebecca Ferguson takes some time to get going on third album
Rebecca Ferguson has so far proven herself as one of the most successful talents coming from the British edition of X Factor. The pop and soul singer-songwriter finished as a runner up in the 2010 season of the show and went on to sell over a million copies of her debut record Heaven, released in 2011. The follow up Freedom from 2013 performed well with both critics and the public as well and in 2015 she treated her fans to Lady Sings The Blues, a cover album full of Billie Holiday tracks. Now, just one year later, we get her official third studio album, titled Superwoman.
While both Heaven and Freedom followed the same soulful singer-songwriter pop style, there was an obvious progression hearable, with Ferguson’s growth as both a vocalist and songwriter. Therefore it is quite surprising Ferguson and her team chose ‘Bones’, a cover of New Zealand artist Ginny Blackmore, as the first single for this new project. Although it is a well written pop midtempo with lyrics that fit Ferguson as an artist, it missed the same magic a track like ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’ had. The same could be said about almost the complete first half of Superwoman. Tracks like ‘Stars’ and ‘Mistress’ are built on nice ideas, but repetitive choruses and the lack of strong hooks kill their potential.
‘Hold Me’ however is one of the best songs she has put her name too with a beautiful and soothing chorus with excellent use of a choir. Ferguson sings her heart out stating all the reasons she needs someone to hold her, while the repetition of the lyrics ‘Will you hold me?’ seems strangely comforting. It is out of the box compositions like this that Ferguson needs in her career right now. We all know she has a distinctive and soulful voice and is able to write highly personal lyrics, but as half of Superwoman makes clear, she runs the risk of repeating herself and needs to find ways to reinvent her sound to keep things interesting.
That is exactly what she does on a track like ‘Oceans’. The production is a little darker here with some more electronic influences and the middle eight hides a surprising, but effective key change. From that point on the album soars from one hightlight to another with the sassy and swinging break up anthem ‘Don’t Want You Back’ and the disco inspired lesson ‘Without A Woman’ on why men can’t survive without the ladies. Go tell ’em Rebecca!
Just like on Freedom, where the title track formed the breathtaking climax of the record, Ferguson saves one of the absolute highlights for last. Her vocals in the bridges towards the chorus are heartbreakingly beautiful. ‘I’ll Meet You There’ is stunningly orchestrated and the lyrics come from the heart. Once again Rebecca makes perfect use of a choir to back her up and the track builds up to perfect finale for this record. Rebecca Ferguson stays true to her style, but impresses the most when she dares to colour outside the lines.
Must listen: Hold Me, Oceans, Without A Woman, I’ll Meet You There, Don’t Want You Back