It’s relevant, it’s contemporary, and it’s edgy enough.
Al Fox 2009
Considering the sheer magnitude of The X Factor, the expectations of its champions are always going to be lofty. But while the majority of winners are lumbered with an oafish, soulless, throwaway debut single, 21-year-old London native Alexandra Burke’s triumph anthem – a largely well-received cover of Hallelujah – provided her with a launch pad above and beyond anything her forerunners were gifted.
So with the bar already set particularly high for Burke, Overcome is unsurprisingly an album that’s glossy, expensive and stylish in concept. However, an attitude-laden, RnB-pop vibe dominates sonically, as lead single proper Bad Boys attests (with Hallelujah itself tacked on the end, acting as a mere footnote). For an album with such a strong RnB influence, there’s a refreshing absence of self-indulgent vocal gymnastics. Burke’s voice is a mightily powerful weapon, but one she’s very much in control of, and she knows how to rein it in.
There’s a slight hotchpotch quality to Overcome, flitting from experiment to experiment and lacking slightly in fluidity. But it’s easy to forget that this is the debut offering of a brand new artist, given Burke’s background and profile, and therefore easy to forget that she’s still very much finding her feet. Good Night, Good Morning is the lippy kid sister of Sound of the Underground; Bury Me is a playful, if somewhat clumsy, nod to Motown; while The Silence, a gargantuan power ballad bridging the gap between Bonnie Tyler and Beyoncé, fully demonstrates the rich, emotive vocals which refuse to play second fiddle to the roll-call of producers du jour.
While it’s by no means revolutionary, Overcome achieves exactly what it needs to. It’s relevant, it’s contemporary, it’s edgy enough for younger fans but accessible enough for a wider audience. But crucially, it’s swathed in personality – something which a certain fellow X Factor victor is sorely deficient in. Rather than functioning solely as a pop album, Overcome is very much an Alexandra Burke record, serving as an illustration of who and where she is right at this moment, and carrying the promise of greatness further down the line.