Yet another winner of American Idol (she won the sixth season two years ago), Jordin Sparks has enjoyed enormous success in her native country since her victory. Still only 19, the Arizona native's second album comes hot on the heels of a million-selling debut that was even Grammy-nominated. Yet the singer - your typical big-voiced soul popstress with a generous helping of modern r 'n' b - would probably herself admit that her first album was rush-released, in order to sate a public eager for some of her recorded output.
'Battlefield' may have had a longer gestation period, but it's not particularly groundbreaking for it. Apart from the fact that it's two or three songs too long, Sparks' collaborations with Ryan Tedder throw up the usual unoriginal, pedestrian songs as the producer/songwriter is wont to generate.
Even so, Sparks' voice is undeniably powerful, and if she shows all of her vocal tricks early on (plenty of ooohs, ahhs and general histrionics), it's simply because that's obviously her forté. In fairness, some of the songs aren't half bad, either: 'Don't Let it Go to Your Head' and 'Let it Rain' sound like the sort of feisty pop tunes that former AI winner Kelly Clarkson would sing, while 'SOS (Let the Music Play)' and 'Emergency (911)' are Madonna-style club floorfillers.
'Battlefield' is a by-the-book hit in every way; it ticks all the commercial boxes (angsty love ballads with big choruses, chart-bothering contemporary r 'n' b tracks, go-getting pop tunes with super-polished production). It's fine, but it's missing one crucial factor for it to appeal to the discerning music fan: soul.