36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
This is a strong debut album from X-Factor winner Leona Lewis, the only potential problems being a surfeit of ballads, and a large dose of overexposure. The British born singer/songwriter is of Guyanese/Welsh parentage, and was no stranger to performing before catching the eye of Simon Cowell, who moved heaven, earth and Clive Davis to ensure that this album had all the backing it needed.
Even before the album was released, she already had a hit single with her version of the Kelly Clarkson song "A Moment Like This", which can be found as a bonus on the UK version of the album. Please note that the track listing for the UK Version is different to the US and Canadian releases. The songs "Forgive Me" (produced by Akon) and "Misses Glass" on this version take the place of "Homeless" (a slow R&B ballad) and "The Best You Never Had" (a slightly faster ballad).
Songs of interest are "Bleeding Love", the first single from the album; "Better in Time", the second single (pop/R&B) which reminds me of Alicia Keys "No One"; "I Will Be", a cover of the Avril Lavigne song; "Yesterday", a pop/R&B track where she sounds like Mariah Carey; "Take A Bow", a radio-friendly R&B track; and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", a cover of the Roberta Flack hit written by Ewan MacColl. Lewis also co-wrote the songs "Whatever It Takes", a mid-tempo R&B track, and "Here I Am", a pop ballad.
Special mention should be made of the powerful and emotional ballad "Footprints in the Sand" inspired by the famous poem by Mary Stevenson, which ends:
The Lord replied
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
Is when I carried you."
Undoubtedly talented, strikingly photogenic, and with a lovely voice, it seems a bit early for all the comparisons to Mariah Carey and early Whitney Houston, but I do believe that we'll be hearing a lot more from Leona Lewis.
Amanda Richards, May 8, 2008
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2008
Leona Lewis has arrived, her cd Spirit has made it to the US for all to hear. She has a voice ,between Mariah and Toni Braxton all in one. What a gem to own. Tracks: Bleeding Love, Better In time, I Will Be, I'm You, Forgive Me, Misses Glass, Angel, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Yesterday, Whatever It Takes, Take A Bow, UK bonus : Footprints In The Sand and Here I am .
Im dedicating the songs Bleeding Love, I Will Be to my husband, To my special friend for life the songs Better In Time, Yesterday. To my lord and savior above Footprints In the Sand for guiding me through the good and bad times, thank you for always being there for me. Thanks Leona for the magic and sincere faith in your music. You are a star already for the world.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2008
I'm really happy to see that this CD has finally been released in the US. This is an exciting time for Leona Lewis. She hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 recently - the first UK female artiste to do it in over 20 years and only the fourth to do it ever. She relinquished the spot to Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" last week but to my surprise, I just heard on the news - BBC News 24, no less - that she's taken it back and that this album is #1 on the Billboard Top 200 as well, making her the first UK artiste to debut at the top US album spot ever! I expected her to do well in the US with this product but I honestly never dreamed she'd do THIS well!
I originally reviewed the album back in December last year, when it was released on Amazon on (no longer available) UK import. I definitely feel the review merits a repost here. This is the original (slightly edited) review as it appeared in December 2007:
"The 2006 "X Factor" winner's debut album is barely out of the blocks and it's already a record breaker. ("X Factor" is the UK version of "American Idol"). It sold over 375,000 copies in its first week, beating the record previously set by the Arctic Monkeys by about 12,000. That might not sound much in an American context but in this country, that's huge potatoes. You go, honey.
Her follow-up single "Bleeding Heart" has also now stood at the top of the UK singles charts for an impressive five weeks. The lead single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" was released last year when she won "X Factor" and that was at the top of the charts for what seemed like ages as well. Simon Cowell and Clive Davis definitely seem to know what they're doing.
Judging by the number of absolute belters on offer here, she's clearly got her eyes on Mariah's fan base (I would've said Mariah and Whitney but I guess we all know why I didn't) and I say good luck to her. I don't usually go for albums put out by talent show winners ("American Idol" 'loser' Chris Daughtry's was the first I ever bought and this is only my second) but I've always thought Leona was a special talent right from the first moment I saw her on the show. Every performance she gave was diamond, in my opinion. Vocally, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are in a class of their own but it's not totally ridiculous to compare Leona to them, as she demonstrated when she performed some of their hits on the show.
Thankfully, the album isn't the usual collection of dreadful covers. The Clarkson song is (of course) on this UK version of the album but isn't likely to appear on the US version when it finally gets released. Only one other sneaks in and while I would've loved it to be "Summertime" - the version she delivered on "X Factor" still gives me shivers anytime I watch it on YouTube - she's gone for the Roberta Flack classic "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and to give her the credit she's due, she owns the song. Treading the line carefully between r&b and pop, the album is a bit samey in places but if breathless diva is your thing, this one is definitely for you.
There are only four real stand out numbers here (with "Take A Bow" likely to be the track labelled 'best on album') but with people like Walter Afanasieff Dallas Austin, Jam & Lewis, Soulshock & Carlin, Salaam Remi and Ne-Yo involved, Spirit is going to be huge, especially in that lucrative yet elusive American market the album is so obviously aimed at. The sooner it gets a proper (and reasonably priced) release there, the better. Leona is young, she's pretty and she oozes a natural sweetness and charm. As Simon Cowell might say, "I think people will like her."
But most importantly, she has a voice to kill for. As long as she doesn't end up becoming another self-important diva and as long as she eventually ditches the über producers and gets to be herself, this is one lady who is going to go far. She's definitely one to look out for; definitely one worth checking out."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Look out world, Leona Lewis is here to steal some of the thunder from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Leona was the winner of the UK show X Factor in 2006 and great things are expected of her.
Stunning model looks; check.
An assembly of top songwriters and producers; check.
A BIG voice; double check!
Lead-off single "Bleeding love" is a catchy upbeat song with violins, organ, and soaring vocals which has already topped the US and UK singles chart (and was the UK's biggest selling single of 2007).
As expected, the album is ballad heavy. Other standouts are "Take a bow" (no, not the Madonna hit, but a synth string filled ballad), "I will be" (a stunning cover of an Avril Lavigne song), the R&B ballad "I'm you" (nice Spanish guitars, harps and skittery beats and great harmonies), and a tender rendering of "The first time ever I saw your face".
"Yesterday" sounds like something from Mariah's repertoire, right from the breathy falsetto, down to the beats, while she sounds very much like Whitney on the gospel tinged (thanks to the choir) "Whatever it takes", and on the bouncy pop "Forgive me". In fact, the latter wouldn't go amiss on either of Whitney's first 2 albums.
I caught the episode of X Factor where she sang the Jackson 5's "I'll be there" and she seems a very likeable person. I felt she should win and was glad she did. However, a large chunk of the album sounds like Leona was made to really study Whitney and Mariah's debuts and is really nothing (musically) special.
No doubt Leona is a fantastic singer and this album will sell millions, it's calculated to, (the album just debuted in the US at #1, making her the first British female since Sade in 1986 to achieve that feat), but one has the feeling that a few albums down the line, she'll finally get to release something that really reflects who she is, and she'll be saying then how this album wasn't really her.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2008
I'm not bashing this girl at all, but Spirit - in my opinion - could've been better had it been chock full of better material as a whole rather than a handful of good tunes and tepid, by-the-numbers Hip Hop-inspired pop filling up the remainder. That's not detracting from Leona Lewis herself, who is undoubtedly a great and extremely talented singer (albeit devoid of much personality, but that's part of her appeal and marketability). I do think "Bleeding Love" is a decent song, and one of the album's highlights, however I think it could do with a better, catchier chorus besides simply "Keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding love"; repetition is good, and few lyrics during can be acceptable, especially during a chorus (Britney Spears' "Gimme More" became an international smash hit simply using the words "Gimme gimme more" over and over again), but although Lewis delivers a marvelous, lightly-sung vocal, there seems to be something missing here that would give it a magical finish. Other standouts include "I Will Be," which is somewhat cheesy but one of the best moments here, both production-wise as well as performance, and even the few upbeat tracks (the synth-driven "Whatever It Take" and "Take a Bow"), despite sounding somewhat bland in terms of originality (Lewis sells better as an amazing vocalist on ballads, not by-the-numbers Hip Hop beats). Despite its flaws, Spirit does showcase its artist's brilliant vocals, which seems to be the main selling point here; with a few better songs, I think Spirit could've lived up to Lewis herself.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2008
There's really not much to say about this album. Leona Lewis is a very talented singer. Much more so than a lot of the female artists that are out there. Sadly, this album comes up short of her potential. "Bleeding Love" is a great song, but a rarity in the album as it's the only song that evokes any kind of feeling. The rest of the album shows great vocal prowess, but the songs are bland and uninspired. It's like the producers took her voice and built empty, generic songs around it. It's music simply for the sake of making a record. I suppose this is how some great singles are made, but an album needs something more.
I'll keep my eye on Ms. Lewis because she can definitely get very far. This album just doesn't do it for me.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2008
I previewed the album and I've seen her on the various talk shows: GMA, Oprah and Jimmy Kimmel. She has a good live performance. Leona has a beautiful voice, but "SHE REMINDS ME OF MARIAH". Leona's music doesn't include the rap lyrics yet, but down the road she'll succumb like all the other top female artist. When I think of a debut artist who took your breath away, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera come to mind. Her vocal sound does not stand out. I think over time she'll develop her style. It's a good debut album, all of the hot producers and songwriters they could find have put their thumbprint on it. As for her being labeled an R&B artist-not so much! This album is pure pop-sicle.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2008
When I first heard of Simon Cowell's great find, I was anxious to hear her sing. My first impression of "Bleeding Love" was that it was a really insipid song that sticks in your head (like a tumor). Still, I was impressed with Leona's voice. Having bought and listened to "Spirit" several times, I've gotta say I'm surprised Simon gave her this material to work with. While it's true Leona Lewis is truly gifted, she deserves much better material. It's not horrible. It's just been done before many times over. The CD is pleasant but doesn't stand out in any way musically. Leona's voice stands out and let's face it, anything she sings will sound great. These songs are well sung -- just not memorable. Best cut (by far): "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" followed by "I Will Be" and "Footprints In The Sand." "Footprints" is a strange song for me. While pretty, it has that carefully crafted feel to it of trying to be a great song rather than just being an organically great song (if that makes sense). Will Leona have the longevity to make it in this business? That's hard to predict. She's definitely talented. Let's hope the next time around her people do better by her and the whole effect winds up feeling fresh (yet timeless) rather than tired and dated.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Leona Lewis' debut Spirit would be hard to miss for chart climbing or publicity. The 22-year old winner of Britain's The X-Factor is managed by American Idol's Simon Cowell, and both Cowell and legendary record producer Clive Davis are sharing production credits on Spirit.
But at the end of the day, the lady will have to have talent to succeed, and young Ms. Lewis does indeed have talent. Her voice has drawn comparison to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, which are unfair to all involved. Ms. Lewis is still in the process of proving herself, and Ms. Houston and Ms. Carey have done all of the proving necessary. However, Spirit shows that Ms. Lewis can stand on her own merits regardless of comparison. Her voice is sweet when it needs to be sweet and strong when it needs to be strong.
Spirit, one can hope, marks just the beginning of an illustrious career. Only time and good use of Ms. Lewis' talent will tell the tale
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2008
Leona Lewis is going the same route as other greats Mariah Carey Toni Braxton Celine Dion and Whitney Houston did... they started their career with POWER BALLADS to really see what they are all about... Leona Lewis is definatley a great singer... she is soooo humble and down-to earth that it makes her THAT much better... this is a great way to start off...
my favourite song is "bleeding love'... hands down! the production is excellent and her voice SOARS!!!
'I'm you' is just brilliant... nice groove and very r&b sounding...
'whatever it takes' 'forgive me' ft. akon 'angel' and 'better in time' are also great joints...
the album does move slow at some points. some tracks are TOO ballad-y... especially "yesterday' and the roberta flack remake 'the first time i saw your face' but she is just showcasing what she has to offer....
i just hope that she can break out of this mariah wannabe stereotype and people can allow her to grow as an artist....
4.3 out of 5 stars: she has a lot of growing to do but solid effort