Of all the stars to come from The X Factor, Rebecca Ferguson is one that has always done things differently. The Liverpudlian singer-songwriter has been heavily involved with all aspects of her music, co-writing every single track on her double platinum selling 2011 debut album Heaven. That album went on to sell over 1.5 million copies worldwide and gave her success in the US. It’s been diminishing returns since then with 2013 album Freedom only reaching Gold and third album Lady Sings the Blues selling less than half of that.
Regardless Ferguson is pushing on with the release of her fourth studio album Superwoman, which arrived in the Top 10 giving the singer her fourth consecutive Top 10 album here in the UK. The album opens with Bones, the lead single and a cover of Ginny Blackmore’s song of the same name. The track doesn’t have the same immediacy as previous lead singles from Ferguson and while it’s a pleasant tune, it doesn’t particularly go anywhere. She sounds fantastic on the track but it’s quite lifeless, missing that quality that made us fall in love with her back during her X Factor days.
The tempo picks up slightly on Mistress but again things just feel a little flatter than we’d expect from the sultry singer. It soon becomes apparent that one of the issues with Superwoman is that Ferguson’s voice is better than the material here and the production seems a little too dated to compete in the current climate. When she keeps things simple she soars such as the acoustic ballad Hold Me and the empowering title track Superwoman.
Since her debut album, I’ve been waiting for Ferguson to switch things up and come out fighting with a collection of bangers. The closest she gets on Superwoman is on the darker melodies of Oceans and the 90s dance of Without a Woman, which allows her to unleash that irresistible growl her voice has.
Unfortunately too much of Superwoman is a bit meandering and middle of the road. The album is clearly geared at a Radio 2 audience, which is no bad thing, but it makes her sound much older than she is. I would love to hear Ferguson record an album that sounds a bit freer, that celebrates her youth and takes some risks sonically. Songs like Waiting For Me and The Way You’re Looking At Her are perfectly listenable but not particularly all that exciting.
Superwoman is a bit disappointing. There was real progression between Ferguson’s first two albums and her foray into the songs of Billie Holiday on Lady Sings the Blues was an interesting diversion. Superwoman isn’t the album I was hoping for though and Ferguson needs to step it up if/when she gets to her fifth album.
Track Listing: 1. Bones 2. Mistress 3. Hold Me 4. Superwoman 5. Stars 6. The Way You’re Looking At Her 7. Pay For It 8. Oceans 9. Don’t Want You Back 10 Without a Woman 11. Waiting For Me 12. I’ll Meet You There Record Company: RCA Release Date: 14th October 2016