Album Reviews

Laura Critchley – Sometimes I

(Big Print) UK release date: 19 November 2007

What are we going to do with Laura Critchley? I can’t believe anyone is even giving this the time of day. Pseudo-folk-country-pop flippancy and cloying, overwrought banality combine to make so shockingly inert an album that anything after the first listen has pushed my will to endure to its very limit.

This weak LeAnn Rimes impersonator exemplifies the twee humdrum dross that lubricates the slippery road to musical torture. Then again, she has been produced by Steve Power, the maestro behind all of Robbie Williams‘ first four albums. She has toured with the Sugababes and is currently on tour with Ray Quinn.

Things seem to be boding well, and perhaps it is just a matter of time before Laura’s album is in the charts. After all it’s mostly happy bells, tambourines and bounding guitars that make up the design chez Critchley. The opening track, Today’s Another Day, sets the mood for the whole work. “I smile because you’re the greatest gift life has given me” drops us to drowning in a pit of sappiness.

Occasionally there are moments when little Laura tries to get melancholy. For example: “why do rainy days and Mondays always get you down?” on Superstar is her lyrical attempt to invoke the spirit of Karen Carpenter and it sounds absurdly fitting for some adolescent musical yet to be written.

On Girl Next Door, Critchley tries to tap into her inner diva. She gives her best shot at a sassy delivery: “People all try to place me in a category…how would you feel if I stick labels over you?” The lyrics don’t shift from laughable to laudable. It’s lazy song writing and at its best it is forgettable.

Unfortunately, Incredible has a phrasing almost directly lifted from Joe Cocker‘s classic You Are So Beautiful To Me. “You’re my little cup of coffee when I’m feeling cold inside/You’re my dictionary when I can’t find the words to speak” from Incredible is creepy and awkward. How could anyone compare such lines to Carol King or Joni Mitchell is quite beyond the imagination.

There is barely an inch of variety in the tone or structure on the album despite brightly harmonious vocals, the melodic charms of acoustic guitar and fine orchestral arrangements. It is in desperate need of greater diversity to demonstrate Laura’s vocal range if she has anything to demonstrate. Being beaten with a single goosedown feather would cause me greater sensation.

The album barely lifts itself from a one dimensional, insipid and tedious drone only proving that she doesn’t really stand a chance in competition with even fellow limp songstresses like Katie Melua.

Furthermore, wasn’t there a feminist revolution sometime back? I don’t think the Critchley team got the memo. It has been a long time since such an unempowered woman has taken the microphone to say “I don’t want to be a burden, I don’t want to be a pain/I don’t want to be a nuisance all you have to do is say/If you wanted to ignore me if you want me to go away/You just have to say”. Not quite a positive image for any young listeners out there. These are possibly the most offensive hyperbolic statements to be found on the album but it’s glossed with chirpy sentimentality.

Miss Critchley will leave any self respecting music fan in a crotchety mood. The marketing folk will be aggressively targeting the mainstream, flogging the album like flotsam to the sea of punters in the run up to Christmas. This is exactly the kind of drivel that makes you grieve for those few who can’t turn it off since they are incapacitated, incarcerated or incapable of good taste.

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Laura Critchley – Sometimes I