★★★★★ | Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Wanderlust

You know when you have a favourite artist, someone with a specific, unique sound, a person whose albums you buy, time and again because you love that sound? That pop/dance fusion that has you nodding your head as you listen on your way to work?

Yeah, that! And then, they go and find a new sound, change things around, shift your expectations slightly left of field…
That’s the latest self-funded offering from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Wanderlust. It has a folky appeal, an approach that isn’t formulaic, little in the way of dance tracks… and is proving hugely popular with her existing fans, and the legion of fans she won on her recent stint on Strictly Come Dancing.

She’s credited her trips to the former eastern bloc as her influence on this album, along with working with Ed Harcourt on writing and producing this album – all equates to a lovely shake up. This lady’s not one to rest on her laurels, with a couple of rug rats under her belt (not literally) and an active social media presence, she’s willing to open up and dismiss that long held aloof image.

Her distinctive voice is here – one of the few english singers who sing with a tangible english ac-cent, rather than the adopted US slant we know and love.

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Track Listing:
Birth of an empire – towering and epic, its one to tingle your toes!
Until the stars collide – beautiful instruments and her lilting voice all mixed in harmony
Runaway Daydreamer – stripped back to basics and sheer perfection
The Deer & The wolf – toe tapping without being cliched
Young Blood – slow and sleek, her voice at its best
Interlude – a showcase for her vocals in a new style
13 Little Dolls – made me dance round the living room
Wrong Side of the sun – a clean sound, great lyrics and a wonderful vocal
Love is a camera – soaring instruments, almost cinematic
Cry to the beat of the band – that hypnotic beat and the choir, amazing
When the storm has blown over – again, no gimmicks, no remix, just her amazing voice on show

All in all, this is a showcase for how her voice has grown over her career, and also a brave choice of work to put out there. Some may say its a vanity project, self-financed because it isn’t immedi-ately commercial, but its seems to be working. Sales have been good, and to be honest, its grown on me – wasn’t too sure on the first listen. This is one of the reasons for the delay in writing this, rather than immediately after the albums release – it is a grower. If I’d written this after one hear-ing, my rating and review would be very different.

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And thats a good thing – sometimes, being too hasty is a bad thing…

About the author: Chris Jones
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