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.
“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.”)
“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.”
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.