Leona Lewis sets her sights on conquering the U.S. market once more with her sophomore album Echo, soaring into stores today. Did the British songbird’s follow-up to last year’s Spirit fly with critics? Find out below.
Entertainment Weekly: Too much of Echo is mired in soppy balladry and standard-issue dancery that seem meant to be consumed with a box of drugstore Chablis. When it works, however, as on the soaring “Happy” and feathery, synth-laden “I Got You,” all is (momentarily) redeemed. C+
Rolling Stone: On her second album, the U.K. belter delivers synth arrangements that arc skyward, toward Simon Cowell’s mountaintop redoubt. Lewis is technically flawless, but behind lyrics about “the scars on my heart,” there’s little personality—you miss a little of Mariah and Whitney’s supersize ego. 2.5 out of 5
The Boston Globe: To its credit, though, Echo sounds downright sumptuous, spotlighting the impressive peaks and valleys of Lewis’ voice. “Can’t Breathe” is a marvel for just how effortlessly Lewis ascends the scales, and the dance-pop delight “Outta My Head” strikes the perfect balance between Lewis’ penchant for sugar and a Lady Gaga-size heaping of spice.
Newsday: On Echo, Lewis shows some subtlety and—gasp!—fun. Yes, Echo is still too ballad-heavy, especially the droopy single “Happy,” but, with Eastern tinges on “Brave” and the upper-register wails of “Breathe,” she keeps it interesting. B
The Observer (U.K.): Serving up great, gutsy ballads by the dozen, the likes of “Happy” and “Broken” are easy to scoff at but difficult not to caterwaul along to, while tinny electro-pop ditty “Outta My Head” is the only serious misfire, confirming Lewis does sexy and upbeat like Jedward do singing in tune. Otherwise, it’s all as technically unimpeachable as it is artistically moribund.
Telegraph (U.K.): As one would expect from a Simon Cowell protégée, the “X Factor” diva’s second album sticks rigidly to pop formulas that established her success: tightly constructed, emotionally histrionic ballads of thwarted ardour and love lost, given the kind of luxurious production that starts small and builds to a series of escalating climaxes. 3 out of 5
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Happy,” “Brave,” “Outta My Head,” “Don’t Let Me Down”