Leona Lewis – I Am

November 12, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Posted in Leona Lewis | Leave a comment

Leona Lewis – I Am

1. Thunder
2. Fire Under My Feet
3. You Knew Me When
4. I Am
5. Ladders
6. The Essence Of Me
7. I Got You
8. Power
9. Another Love Song
10. Thank You

♦ ♦ ♦

I Am is the fifth studio album by British singer/songwriter Leona Lewis, released on September 11, 2015. The album sold 24,000 copies in its first week of release.

What a great way to open the album with power anthem Thunder. It’s a power ballad with a soulful bounce to it, announcing Leona’s rise from the ashes and her return to the industry after her depression. She certainly puts herself on the map again with this song and I love it for its fiery ambiance.

For Fire Under My Feet, Leona channeled her inner Adele (think ‘Rolling In The Deep’). It’s a bit of a diva song that takes elements from gospel music, which I think is very original nonetheless. It took me a bit longer to let everything this song has to offer sink in, but now I’m positive about how strong this single really is.

For the first slow ballad on the album, Leona pours her heart out in You Knew Me When. Lyrically, it’s about how she changed after a relationship gone wrong. When it comes to the music, there’s a noticeable buildup in the song. She starts softly singing to a piano melody, but eventually percussion, strings and a background choir come in to add to the drama of it all. Center point is Leona’s vocals, which are stunning.

Massive Attack (‘Unfinished Sympathy’) anyone? I Am is the next self-empowerment song and it takes a bit after said song, in the best possible way of course. Some believe this is about how Leona feels after leaving Syco Records and Simon Cowell, but I’m not sure, could be though. Anyway, this is quite a catchy song and a worthy title track. Also, one of my favorites.

Ladders is so different from the rest of the tracks when it comes to the arrangement (not surprising since it’s the only song with other producers). This track is more dance-friendly, which is something I did not expect Leona to tackle, but she did it very well. Her vocal acrobatics near the end of the song are among the best on this album, but overall this song is not among my absolute favorites. Not bad, though.

Of all the songs on the album, I think The Essence Of Me was most forgettable (despite some highlights in the song, but they apparently couldn’t really save it). It’s a bit too generic, and by now I was so surprised about the diversity on this album. Not a bad song, but it could’ve been more special. Maybe I just need a little time with this one.

As the queen of emotional ballads, Leona has had problems in the past with uptempo songs. Yet, on this album, another track like I Got You proves otherwise. This positive song is very welcome by now on the album, and it reminds me a bit of some other uplifting gospel songs. Her vocals slay everything and I think this is probably the track that showcases her amazing abilities best.

Power is right what it says on the tin: another self-empowerment song (‘This is where you end and I begin‘). Some blame Leona for being too blunt on the album, which is sort of true, but at least she’s not overly bitter. The chorus is quite simple, but I like the overall 90s pop ambiance this track has. It’s like a little throwback!

Another uptempo track, and this is probably the best on the entire album since it’s so different. Tropical dance, yay! Another Love Song might feature some bitter lyrics, but the arrangement is so uplifting with its tropical steeldrums and fast beats I can’t even. Some autotuning won’t even ruin this, I think she needed this song in her discography since it’s wonderful.

Closing the album gracefully, Thank You is a soft ballad in which Leona thanks someone for always standing by her side, which is of course a beautiful message. It has a subtle soulful approach, but that only becomes evident near the end when the music swells, and that’s when everything truly becomes magical. Thank you Leona, for those lovely notes that were borderline whistle notes.

I’m surprised this album is this good, I’ve never considered Leona as one of my standard artists but now I’m definitely contemplating it. This is her breakup album, and usually, when they are good, I love those kinds of albums. She gave it her own twist and tackled some genres that make her more diverse as an artist. She fought her way back into the spotlight and battled many things to accomplish this, I think she should receive more recognition for this album. After all, 24,000 copies is not a lot.

Favorite songs: Thunder | Fire Under My Feet | I Am | I Got You | Another Love Song | Thank You

4 stars

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