Thursday, November 5, 2009

Album Review: Overcome

Alexandra Burke is the next big superstar to come crashing out of the X Factor machine. Although the show is currently working to produce its next star, this former winner is working to win over the UK and (hopefully) the world. She’s just released her debut album, Overcome, and it’s already hit #1 in the United Kindgom following the success of her amazing single, Bad Boys. Does this album deliver? In essence, yes. However, like most debut albums aimed at chart domination, its lack of coherence and artistic identity ultimately make it a safehaven for strong singles as opposed to a disc worthy of critical acclaim.

All that being said, a near majority number of the songs on Overcome have massive potential. I’ve already expressed my feelings on Bad Boys, the lead single from the disc. The fun does not stop there. Good Night Good Morning is a sexy midtempo song about finding that special someone for a night of intercoursing, The Silence is an epic ballad of Biblical proportions (yes that was sacrilegious), and All Night Long is an electropop song that’s extremely catchy. Etcetera. By the way, I’ve just referred to the first four tracks on the album. I could list every song on the CD and laud their pop and R&B sensibilities. However, that would get redundant. Let me just pick a few highlights. Broken Heels is an infectious club number about female empowerment with a chorus that will haunt you for days. You Broke My Heart is a bit of a soul throwback about a relationship that has gone sour. If you’re going to start somewhere on Overcome, I’d start there.

Additionally, Alexandra’s voice is in great vocal voice (to quote the esteemed Paula Abdul). Although not all of the tracks afford her the opportunity to wail, she does when she can. The aforementioned song The Silence shows that off, as does the title track. Her instrument vacillates between smooth and husky, vulnerable and soulful. She may not have the polish and maturity of more seasoned performers, but she definitely has the raw talent. I’m excited to see how her singing develops in the coming years.

With all this said, Overcome sounds more like a greatest hits CD than an album. Sure, that’s a compliment to the songs, but Alexandra beach balls between styles so often it’s a bit disconcerting. One minute it’s electronic, then it’s R&B, then it’s 60s throwback, then it’s piano ballad, and on and on. There is no cohesion and no sense of who Alexandra is. It’s vapid concoctions like this that mark the death of albums. I enjoy listening to most of these songs and I could even enjoy listening to them in succession, yet it’s so highly commercialized that it almost hinders one’s ability to relate to the material on a personal level. Say what you want about Taylor Swift, she at least has an artistic identity.

Well, those are my two cents. Sample the songs on iTunes or YouTube and download your favorites. There are many to choose from and a lot of them are great. There’s just no sense in going for the whole album because you don’t gain anything by doing so. My rating is generous out of respect for the overall song quality, but I am personally disappointed that this disc represents the sad future of albums in the music industry.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Savage Songs: Bad Boys, The Silence, Broken Heels, You Broke My Heart

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