In this week’s issue of the Pierce Arrow I discussed an up and coming independent pop artist named Ro Danishei who was giving out her debut album for free on her website. Danishei is the third of three different pop artists who have been doing this over the past year. The first was Simon Curtis who released his debut album 8bit Heart in March and the second was Andrea Lewis who released her debut album 54321 in October. I decided I would review Andrea’s album as my first blog entry to coincide with my review of Danishei’s.
Some of you may have actually heard of Andrea Lewis. Only you probably know her better as Hazel from Degrassi: The New Generation way back when it started when we were in middle school. Lewis is a very talented singer with a strong voice that is perfect for the R&B jams that she has created. If you’re a fan of R&B music she can best be compared to Amerie in her early years. She takes a completely different approach than Curtis or Danishei who did dance music. Lewis’s sound is a very soulful one that makes her perfect for the genre.
The album starts off strong with my personal favorite track, “VooDoo.” “VooDoo” is a straight up jam. It doesn’t have any electronic or club elements, just an old fashioned sound that makes you want to dance. Not to mention the occasionally nonsensical lyrics are so infections that you just want to sing along with the song and see if you can keep up with Lewis’s speedy delivery. One of the disappointing aspects about the album is that Lewis does not have any other songs like this on the album. While “VooDoo” gives us a taste of her vocal abilities she spends the majority of the album showing it off through mid-tempo and slow R&B grooves. While the track “Fool Of Me” is a song with a good enough beat to dance to, it’s not nearly as infectious as “VooDoo.”
This ends up being the album’s one major downside. There aren’t a ton of up-tempo tracks which causes the album to occasionally drag on. While there are some definite stand outs, it concerns me that people might not keep the CD in their players long enough to get to them.
Don’t get me wrong though. Just because “VooDoo” is the only jam does not mean the rest of the album has nothing to deliver. Lewis’s voice is just silky and smooth draped over mid-tempos like “She.” On tracks like “Conquerors” though, her voice is a powerhouse belting out the chorus and showing that she can really sing. The best vocal performance comes from the ballad “Talk To Me”, a duet with Simon Curtis. It’s a beautifully haunting ballad that conveys really raw emotion that is expertly delivered by Lewis and Curtis.
54321 is a great debut R&B album with some wonderful songs worthy of radio play and a real release. If Lewis’s next album has this albums flavor with some more up-tempo songs in their she will have quite the product on her hands. She clearly knows what she’s doing though, it’s clear on the album’s “Outro” where she sings an acapella cover of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life.” I’d definitely recommend the album for any R&B fan looking for new artists to try out. As for my rating I’ll have to tie Lewis with Danishei and give her seven pop-tarts.
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