Friday, 14 October 2016

Rebecca Ferguson - Superwoman, album review

Best When Least Adorned

Her third release, I think, this album is as one would expect over-produced to meet the pop sensibilities of Ferguson's target audience, and the coffers they fuel, though the live circuit is possibly the key earner, and seeing her live is probably to experience the essence of what does genuinely make her an important singer: that voice.

For example, listen to the opening of Oceans where it is only voice and piano, before the orchestration and synths and chorus, and this is when we hear the distinctive tone and texture. Opener and single Bones is the consummate lavish production, but even within this, Ferguson's voice can soar and impress, at moments. The lyrics of pain and loss in love will appeal for their dramatic melancholy, and we know from what we read that Ferguson has suffered the despairs of living with desertion, reflected then in this line from the song It's tough being a woman in love with an unkind man.

We had her Billy Holiday album, reviewed here, and so there has been that attempt at some 'authenticity' [though this was a commercial set of covers, naturally], but it would be good at some point to hear a stripped-back soul album. In terms of memorable songs, she still hasn't matched the genuine power and permanence of Shoulder to Shoulder from her first album, though there are echoes of this in others, and a soulful sense of her vocal prowess gets a potent presentation in Hold Me on this album which is a solid unpretentious song. Indeed, this has great emotive reaches.

Title track Superwoman also begins promisingly with funky-ish guitar and organ swirls, the vocal best when least adorned, and this song too allows Ferguson opportunities to convey genuine emotional power.

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