STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 176697-28921 LABEL: We Are Hear FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Although it's been nine years since her last full length release, the fourth album from Platinum-selling artist Natasha Bedingfield has certainly been worth the wait. Produced by Linda Perry (Pink, Gwen Stefani), this is an offering which finds Bedingfield on top form with an eclectic collection of tracks that reflect the US-based English singer's obvious sense of fun with a more mature tone that has developed over the years. Sitting amidst frothier numbers like the lead single "Roller Skate" and "Real Love" are songs where Bedingfield tackles some of the weightier issues of the day with the likes of sexism being dealt with without compromise in "No Man I See" whilst the heartfelt and incredibly poignant "Hey Papa" is effectively a lament on the devastating effect gun violence is having on American children in particular. It's testimony to Bedingfield's skill as both writer and performer that such songs sit as easily as they do next to more intimate pieces like "King Of The World" - an ode to her young son - and the heartfelt love song "Can't Look Away" whilst producer Perry conjures up a rollercoaster ride of a musical backdrop that swings from brass-laden soul one moment to electro pop the next. Elsewhere, there are hints of a spirituality in the soul-searching "I Feel You" and the aforementioned "Hey Papa" although fans from the singer's DNA Algorithm days may be startled at the "sugar coated lies makes you a motherf****r" line in "Sweet Nothing" - a song that also contains a genius self-deprecating lyric about her smash hit "These Words" to showcase her standing as a self-aware wordsmith. In addition, Bedingfield's voice has never sounded better - especially the delightfully raspy quality that occurs when she hits her top range - making this an altogether accomplished and satisfying outing from one of the pop world's premier acts. Four acoustic alternate versions are tagged on to the end to add further value for money.
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