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Meredith Whitmore

Album Review

A 2006 winner on X-Factor (American Idol’s British precursor), Leona Lewis is a 24-year-old English singer/songwriter. Her first album, 2007’s Spirit, topped the charts, eventually selling a million-plus copies and earning three Grammy nominations. Voted Billboard’s Top New Artist of 2008, Leona’s stunning pop and R&B vocals have been compared to those of a young Whitney Houston.

She says she titled her second studio album Echo because “an echo describes a big, organic sound.” With mentors such as Simon Cowell and music industry patriarch Clive Davis guiding her career, that sound may be echoing for years to come.

Pro-Social Content

“Happy” describes taking risks to find joy (“So what if it hurts me/So what if I break down/ … I gotta find my place/I wanna hear my sound/Don’t care about all the pain in front of me/I just wanna be happy”). “I Got You” exhibits an upbeat attitude about maintaining a friendship after a breakup (“Ain’t falling apart or bitter/Let’s be bigger than that/ … No drama, no need for a show/Just wanna say I got you.” On “Lost Then Found” Leona sings of sticking with a challenging romance: “I know love isn’t painless/But it’s worth the risk, it’s worth the fight/ … Love ain’t the enemy/Don’t you wanna be lost then found?” On the other hand, “You Don’t Care” showcases her courage to walk away from a dead relationship.

“Brave” revolves around a big-hearted man who believes in a woman who struggles to believe in herself (“You go to fight for love like a soldier/I wanna run away/You’re never scared to walk through the fire/I wish I had your faith”). “My Hands” and “Alive” both deal with slow but gradual recoveries from tough breakups. “Don’t Let Me Down” is an anthemic salute to being a fighter in hard circumstances. (“If I need a hero/I get my mirror/ … Gotta go on with the show”). She also perseveres on “Broken” (“I got nothing left inside/Nothing to hide/I’m broken/ … I’m putting back together my heart.”)

Objectionable Content

“My Hands” alludes to a cohabiting relationship with a former flame (“I wake in the morning/ … And make my bed alone”). Sexual allusions also turn up on “Fly Here Now” when Leona sings, “I need your body here with me/ … People say we can’t fly/But we can defy gravity tonight.”

“Love Letter” hints at an obsession shared by two people who’ve never actually met (“Even though I never met you/I still miss you/I can feel you in my dreams/ … Tell me am I insane?”). “Can’t Breathe” dabbles in a similarly risky fixation (“Don’t wanna be alone again/I cannot function without you here.”) Then there’s a tinge of vindictiveness on “Outta My Head,” where Lewis belts, “It’s funny how easy you can mess me up/Now look how easy I get you/Outta my head/ … Now you’re tasting all the pain I was in.”

Summary Advisory

Whoever Leona Lewis loves, she loves with all of her passionately bluesy heart. Her sophomore effort includes a couple of unfortunate sexual references (as well as a couple of cleavage-baring pics of her in the liner notes). But most of the time, its an emotionally upbeat collection of ballads and dance floor numbers that encourage listeners to maintain a positive attitude when love fails and when life is difficult.

Meredith Whitmore
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