Two and a half years after the release of her debut album, 'Overcome', Alexandra Burke has followed up the multi-platinum selling success with 'Heartbreak on Hold'. The former X-Factor winner has been bizarrely subject to spasm of bad publicity and radio blacklisting, a pretty saddening state of affairs given that she is one of the best performers and vocalists to emerge from the UK in the past decade. As a result, 'Heartbreak on Hold' limped into the top twenty, and as yet, has barely scraped past 10,000 sales. This disheartening state of affairs in no way reflects the music, as the album houses several phenomenal tracks. However, it is true to say, her boarding of the dance-pop bandwagon and abandoning the r'n'b influences of her first album, has done her a disservice and considerably eroded a lot of the character from her music.
The title track was penned by Rico Love, responsible for her previous smash-hit 'All Night Long'. As the name suggests, 'Heartbreak on Hold' is an uplifting, dance track that never becomes too saccharine. "Not gonna let the pain take control of me, tomorrow's going to be a new day" she sings on the bridge. Alexandra's vocals are strong, and the production is impeccable - a great start to the record. 'Let It Go', the album's second single, builds on this inspirational theme. The beat is reminiscent of 90s club favourite Robin S 'Show Me Love', and is arguably the best on the album. The suspenseful production and positive vibe of the song, make it an infectious sing-a-long anthem. The rousing chorus of 'Let it go, go, go... let it all go" will have you singing along from the first listen.
The album's first single was an odd choice for me, 'Elephant' (produced by dance DJ Erick Morillo), is an instrumental-heavy track that drenches Alex's vocals in auto-tune. The lyrics are compelling about there being 'an elephant in the room', that the two people in the relationship need to address, however, the song never really reaches its potential and avoids the brilliance it could have.
The album's best moments come with 'Fire' - a storming dance song, which features Whitney Houston-inspired vocals on a soaring chorus. "I want you now, like we're burning in a five-alarm fire" she sings, with magnificent and powerful vocals. The hook-laden song, at times has clumsy lyrics, but for the most part, is an example of how when Alexandra does the genre well, she really owns it. 'Between the Sheets' is another highlight - the only song on the album that really has the r'n'b-pop style of her first album. The smouldering, percussion-heavy track talks about intense sexual attraction that means that "the only thing between us, should be the sheets". The track showcases a different tone to Alexandra's voice, and changes the pace of the album considerably. It is a welcome change from the dance numbers.
Indeed, the album's shortcomings are not really the songs in isolation, but the simple fact that ten out of the twelve songs could be characterised as dance-pop. The genre is so overdone at the moment that it is a little stale. Tracks such as 'This Love Will Survive' are forgettable, as the rousing beats do little to mask sub-par hooks. By the time you are a third of the way through the album, your appreciation for each track diminishes, as there is nothing sonically different at all. 'Love You That Much' should never have really made the cut, as it adds nothing in terms of its production, and its lyrics are little on the embarrassing side. I can't help but feel that had Alexandra done a 50/50 split of dance and other genres, this album would have really benefited from the diversity of sounds.
The album closes with 'What Money Can't Buy', a powerful piano-led ballad that reminds me a little of Alicia Keys' magnificent 'If I Ain't Got You'. The track showcases spine-tingling vocals and really is refreshing (albeit, out of place) after eleven europop songs. A few more songs like this would really help the album.
Overall, Alexandra's second album is a mixed bag. There are a handful of fantastic tracks here that deserve to be huge hits. However, as an album itself, it may be cohesive but it is far too samey and safe in terms of sound. To listen to it from start to finish is a bit of a chore, as all the songs begin to blur into one. Unless you are a big fan, I'd recommend cherry-picking my recommendations and really enjoy them, rather than having to sift through the monotony of mediocre euro-pop. Although, with its price falling on most online retailers, it is more in line with its under £5 price tag.
Highlights: Let it Go, Heartbreak on Hold, Fire, Between the Sheets, What Money Can't Buy
Heartbreak on Hold is the second album from British X Factor winner Alexandra Burke. The CD was released in the United Kingdom in June 2012 and so it is very recent. The album is currently available to buy from Amazon for a price of £5.37 which I think is good value for money.
~ * Track Listing * ~
1) Heartbreak on Hold 2) Elephant (featuring Erick Morillo) 3) Let It Go 4) The Love Will Survive 5) Fire 6) Between The Sheets 7) Daylight Robbery 8) Tonight 9) Love You That Much 10) Oh La La 11) Sitting On Top Of The World 12) What Money Can't Buy
It's hard to believe that it's been almost three years since the release of Alexandra's debut (and previous) album. So I think that it is great that she has a new album out, especially as I really liked her debut album 'Overcome'.
The songs are quite light-hearted compared to the songs on her last album, however I can't help but feel that they all have sound samey and that the songs don't have much meaning to them. I know that Alexandra is a fantastic performer who really gets to emotion across to her listeners - not with this album which is a shame.
Songs which do stand out for me include: Between The Sheets and Tonght as they are very catchy and poppy. I wish that there were more ballads on this album; which would really make more use of Alexandra's lovely vocals.
Alexandra was considered to be an R 'n' B artist, although it appears that with this album she is trying her hardest to change direction. This album has less of an R 'n' B sound and more of a Euro-pop kind of sound. Whilst the songs are happy and refreshing the majority of the time, the songs don't sound any different than any other 'pop stars' songs right now. Is it me or has everyone suddenly changed their sound to 'Europop' (Cheryl Cole, Rihanna? Etc)
I love Alexandra's voice; she has such a silky-smooth, soulful voice. I know that Alexandra can sing really well (I predicted she'd win the X Factor way before the live shows!) as her debut album proved. So you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that the songs on this album don't really show off her voice. Sadly, this album seems to be more about the music and the 'bang-bang' beats rather than her voice which is a bit of a shame.
One thing which really bugs me is the fact that there is a lot of auto-tune use on this album!! We know that Alexandra can sing well and in perfect tune, so why, oh why did auto-tune need to be used?! At times her voice sounds very 'electronic'.
This album is ok, but it isn't that much different from everything else that's out in the charts at the moment.
Thanks for reading!
Xdonzx / xd-o-n-z-x
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Heartbreak On Hold
2 Elephant (feat. Erick Morillo)
3 Let It Go
4 This Love Will Survive
6 Between The Sheets
7 Daylight Robbery
9 Love You That Much
10 Oh La La
11 Sitting On Top Of The World
12 What Money Can?t Buy