On her second studio album The X Factor starlet lives up to expectations, but perhaps sticks a little too closely to a successful formula.
Of all the X Factor winners, and at this point there's been quite a few, Leona Lewis has become something of a gem-child, outgrowing the tag of the hit singing competition to become a successful recording artist in her own right. 'Echo' is her second full length offering, and while it's largely standard thoroughfare, Leona throws a few curveballs that prove she's come a long way since bagging her X Factor title back in 2006.
The Middle Eastern vibe of 'Brave' lends an air of the exotic, while a collaboration with Justin Timberlake on 'Don't Let Me Down' makes for one of the album's highlights, as driving piano and nicely structured beats are complimented by a classy string arrangement. Colorado pop rockers OneRepublic make a less successful guest appearance on 'Lost and Found', which combines a number of hackneyed ideas with the usual cheesy pop production style.
Sadly, there are times when Leona seems to be simply regurgitating a proven pop formula. Oasis' 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' is an odd choice to get the 'Run' treatment, transforming a simple guitar tune into an epic pop anthem complete with gospel choir. And it's when Leona attempts to cash in on trends that 'Echo' really falters. The dance vibe of synth pop number 'Outta My Head' merely falls flat and Leona almost sounds as if she's impersonating Christina Aguilera towards the end.
Though it's generally considered a crime to fault Leona vocally, there a certain occasions where she seems to be trying a little too hard, particularly on those warbling Mariah-esque high notes. In truth, Leona's voice is actually much more affecting in its quieter, simpler phrases, such as the unfussy intro of 'My Hands', where she sounds beautifully effortless. For album number three, let's hope Leona stops trying to fit the diva mould quite so perfectly.