Tuesday, May 01, 2007

NB - Natasha Bedingfield

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There's no doubting that Natasha Bedingfield is an acquired taste. I didn't like her at all when she started out, but was converted to some extent by the wonderfully daft These Words single. Listening to her debut album converted me more, although I would have to admit that the album as a whole was a little hit and miss. Of course that would probably some up most people's opinion of the more agreeable Bedingfield. Some great tracks, some absolute dross.

NB, her second album, doesn't totally eradicate this equation but it is a definite step in the right direction.

Album opener How Do You Do sets a perfect opening tone; it's as lyrically daft as ever (if you're not climbing up my ivory towers, I'm coming down to you) and sets off what would appear to be the theme of the album. Women have control over their own love-life destiny. Gone are the days when women had to wait for men to make the first move. All very admirable, but all very hen-night and school playground. What saves it though is that the tune is a catchy one which pretty soon is lodged in your brain. Indeed, we've started off on a high note indeed.

There are others too.

Say It Again nails a perfect pop chorus with such aplomb that I'll be very disappointed if it doesn't top the charts for weeks and will be the one where the audience waves their lighters (and mobile phones) in the air and sings along wholeheartedly at her concerts. Who Knows may be even better; it certainly was the one I found myself singing in the bath after listening to the album.

There are times though when it doesn't quite work. I doubt people will be remembering Eve's appearance here with the fondness reserved for her Gwen Stefani collaborations and Smell The Roses doesn't quite manage to disguise just how dull it is, despite the Aguilera style histrionics and luscious strings floating around in the background.

The sheer list of names that helped with the album (Mike Elizondo, Adam Levine, Diane Warren, Nate Hills, Danielle Brisebois and Pat Leonard to name but a handful) proves that this was never going to be a dull record, and indeed the sense is that it doesn't matter if you like a particular track or not...there's be another one you do like along any minute.

It's to Bedingfield's credit as well that despite the sheer weight of numbers you never really lose sense that this is her album. Sure, that may not be an entirely welcome prospect for some (witness the endless discussions about the merits, or otherwise, of lead single I Want Your Babies) but I'm quite happy with it all.

And how refreshing it is for a British (yes, she does just about count as a Brit :-D) pop star to wilfully display her eccentricities on record rather than bizarre rants at the Brit awards and through thank you messages that are longer than a university dissertation.

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