Launching a solo career after being part of a successful pop group is no easy thing to do. From the Spice Girls through to One Direction, very few group members have gone on to have a sustainable and successful solo career after leaving the comfort of their band. Of course there are exceptions with Robbie Williams being the most notable from the last twenty years. The Saturdays called it quits (well the official line is ‘hiatus’) in 2015 after 8 years together. Vanessa White and Mollie King have both attempted to launch solo careers but neither was met with much enthusiasm or commercial success.
Step forward Una Healy, the one member of The Saturdays who always seemed genuinely uncomfortable with the stylised brand of sexy pop music the group used to churn out. Prior to her time in the group, Healy was a folk singer-songwriter so her leap to manufactured pop was a strange one. For her solo debut The Waiting Game, Healy has returned to her songwriter roots with the album being marketed as country.
Unfortunately to my ears, there’s nothing much country about The Waiting Game. Aside from the lead single Stay My Love, which features Nashville star Sam Palladio, the album doesn’t actually veer too far into the country genre. If anything, Healy has carved out a record that is a singer-songwriter folk record, something you get the impression she would have always rather been doing.
The album opens with the polished uptempo number Battlelines, one of the stronger tracks, and positions Healy as a more mature type of popstar. There’s no doubt her pop experience has fed into this collection and the commercial sheen of the track shows that she still has her eye on the charts.
There are a few mis-steps on the record. S.O.S. is a bit painful to listen to as Healy pushes her vocals past the point of being pleasant on the ear and Alarm Bells exposes the weakness of her voice sounding a little more Hilary Duff than she probably would have hoped for.
Much better is the simpler Craving You where Healy plays to the strength of her voice. She has a grit to her tone and there is some power there but she’s not a belter. The simple arrangement works better for her and you can hear the unique quality in her voice on tracks like this. Another highlight is the folky Out the Door, which is a pleasant ditty about missing a lover.
The Waiting Game isn’t the record that it wants to be and sadly it doesn’t showcase Healy as a songwriter with all that much to say. The subjects covered here are the usual clichéd fare you’d expect from someone with a background in super-polished pop. I was hoping for a heartfelt genuine step into the burgeoning country market but sadly The Waiting Game is a disappointment.
Track List: 1. Battlelines 2. The Waiting Game 3. Stay My Love featuring Sam Palladio 4. All You Ever Need is Love 5. S.O.S 6. Please Don’t Tell Me 7. Staring at the Moon 8. Alarm Bells 9. Craving You 10. Out the Door 11. Grow Up Not Old 12. Angel Like You Record Label: Decca Release Date: 10th February 2017