The album offers little to set the Liverpudlian apart from her American predecessors.
Gemma Padley 2007-11-13
When you think of country/pop crossover music, which singers spring to mind? Sheryl Crow for sure, perhaps Shania Twain and LeAnn Rimes of course. Britain has never been a huge exponent of country music but that hasn’t stopped many budding female singers, often on talent shows like X Factor and Pop Idol, from giving it a go. Laura Critchley is no different.
The 22-year-old Liverpool singer began her quest for success by entering Fame Academy in 2001. Reaching the final fifty, she no doubt made a handful of industry ears twitch. A few years of persistent demo dishing-out later, Critchley’s debut album Sometimes I, twelve warm mellow emotion-oozing tracks, reveals the fruits of her labour. What is immediately striking is the vocal similarity to Rimes – "I’ll be ok" bears more than a passing resemblance to "How do I live?" There is no doubt Critchley has considerable talent, but the album offers little to set the Liverpudlian apart from her American predecessors.
That is not to write Critchley off – far from it. As far as easy listening goes, she could do very well indeed. The discoey title track is a gutsy number and the bright feel-good "Today’s another day", (one of the strongest tracks on the album) scoops humdrum activities into one big banjo-laced shindig. A series of lush orchestration draped ruminations follow including single "What do we do" awash with frayed emotion, while "Shoulder to lean on" and "Incredible" take a more soul-laden approach (the latter more musically interesting and vocally challenging if a little pseudo soulful).
It is a shame then that "Lullaby" with its uninspiring lyrics closes the album, for overall Sometimes I is an enjoyable collection of songs. With the likes of Robbie Williams producer Steve Power and Take That’s Jeremy Marsh on board, Critchley has all the necessary support in place to go far; the question is whether she has the originality to become a true great British vocalist.