The Meaning of Love surprisingly sounds like a very competent and unhurried effort...
Ruth Mitchell 2004
Michelle McManus must be truly exhausted. Within a matter months of her incredible triumph over Mark Rhodes to become Pop Idol, the 23-year-old from Glasgow releases her debut album. And on top of the gruelling recording schedule, there is the endless press and promotion to do too. I don't suppose she's had time to catch her breath!
Packed full of dreamy songs written especially for Michelle, The Meaning of Love, surprisingly sounds like a very competent and unhurried effort indeed. Things kick off with the epic "All This Time" with its glorious array of lush harmonies that make it stand out a mile. No wonder that this single made our heroine the first ever Scottish woman to chart at Number One with her debut.
Further along "Emotional" makes an impression. After a weak piano introduction it builds into a fine pop crescendo bursting with energy and enthusiasm. "When The World Is Not Enough" is up next and despite being co-written by Cathy Dennis (who wrote Kylie's "Cant Get You Out Of My Head") it should be overlooked. It's weak, saggy and missing even a spark of fire or passion.
To cover Nina Simone is a brave thing to do and to choose "Feeling Good" is even braver, yet Michelle has recorded a splendid rendition. She puts a strong vocal stamp on this classic song that is reminiscent of Alicia Keys. Michelle doesn't quite have the same depth and soul that oozes from the sultry Ms Keys but it's impressive stuff nevertheless.
"Once In A Lifetime" rounds things off nicely and, like so much of this collection, is absolutely made by its gorgeously supple string arrangements. It bends and stretches effortlessly as the violins soar and Michelle tells us earnestly that her 'once in a lifetime is now'. She may be right but judging by The Meaning Of Love she could well be with us for some time toc come. That's if the Pop Idol lifestyle isn't too much for her, of course.