Monday 29 August 2016

Album Review: Sophie Ellis-Bextor - 'Familia', Released 2 September 2016 via EBGB’s and Red/Essential

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - 'Familia'
Released 2 September 2016 via EBGB’s and Red/Essential

Ok - remove the chart image and perception of a UK top singles machine that came and went... I know you may associate Sophie Ellis-Baxtor with stuff she has done in the past, with the ex - Take That Robbie Williams for example. But listen, you may believe me or not, but there is definitely more than meet the eye. She is an artist and genuine song writer and I don’t think Ed Harcourt would compromise himself if she was not one to watch.

In 2014, Sophie Ellis-Baxtor released Wanderlust, a risky album. Some say it was Experimental Pop. One thing is sure, it was not dance floor material. Sophie sees 'Familia' which will be released this week as a logical follow-up on her previous LP, not so much in terms of musicality but in terms of intent and link.

It is different but highly engaging. 'Wild Forever' the first track with its Arabic flute like sound in the background accompany the whole title and makes it a strong Pop statement. The following song is equally strong and maybe more classic in its construction, the voice is superb and mature. Actually 'Death of Love' which is the title of this song, is my favourite song. The lyrics are deep and meaningful in the current context.

'Familia' has a maternal aspect and flavour throughout the entire album. Sophie claims there is actually a Latin American influence on the album. I don’t think it is obvious personally, but maybe 'Hush Little Voices' and its Mexican horns shows it a bit clearer. On the whole the album sounds homely, the baroque and the predictable grooves are gone. It is the work of an artist who is more confident in the direction she wants to take and the direction is not the shiny show.

'Here Comes the Rapture' and the beautiful 'Unrequited' are tracks that sweat feelings, transpire emotions and will make your soul shiver every time you listen to them. Production, instrumental arrangements and mix is perfect but that’s what you would expect from an artist of Sophie’s stature.

You got it, there is no glitter on 'Familia'. It’s a cohesive unit despite some incursions in different styles (Country, Pop, Classic Pop). I was thinking (funnily enough I was about to say singing) so much, my head is fully engaged in the whole experience of listening to this really good album. You know, one of those that you will come back to, one of those that grow on you, that came into your life by accident without a warning and then you get so attached to it, you cannot be the one that get away.

I like it, I like it a lot!

Overall: you will be surprised how much you may love this album
If I was to pick 3 only: Death of Love, Unrequited, Wild Forever
Live Test: I think I would like very much to see her on stage

Review by Pascal Derrien

Track listing:

01. Wild Forever
02. Death Of Love
03. Crystallise
04. Hush Little Voices
05. Here Comes The Rapture
06. Come With Us
07. Cassandra
08. My Puppet Heart
09. Unrequited
10. The Saddest Happiness
11. Don’t Shy Away

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