released Nov 17th

from the album - Happy

from amg

A striking young woman with a strong vocal resemblance to the young Whitney Houston and a large mop of blonde corkscrew curls, Leona Lewis won the third series of the British reality talent show The X Factor in a landslide. (For non-Brits: The X Factor is the revamped follow-up to the original U.K. talent search, Pop Idol, of which American Idol is the massively successful U.S. version; AI's Simon Cowell is the show's lead judge and executive producer.) Born and raised in the Islington section of north London, Lewis won a talent show at the age of 13 and devoted herself to music thereafter, eventually graduating from the prestigious BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. While working as a receptionist and pizza waitress and writing her own material, Lewis auditioned for The X Factor in the summer of 2006 and won the third series competition in December of that year. Lewis' debut single, a soulful cover of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" (Clarkson's own debut American Idol showcase single), was the number one single in the U.K. at the turn of the year, including the coveted "Christmas number one." Along with her TV-driven U.K. success, Lewis signed an American recording deal with Clive Davis' J Records in February 2007. By the end of the year, she had launched her debut album, Spirit, in England, and watched it go to the top of the charts (along with the single "Bleeding Love"). The American release followed in 2008, and with similar success; it reached the top of the Billboard 200 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Album. Echo, Lewis' follow-up, was issued in 2009, featuring collaborations with Ryan Tedder, Xenomania, and Timbaland.

album review

The goal of Leona Lewis' 2007 debut, Spirit, was to prove that an X Factor winner could be a phenomenon not just in the U.K., but in the rest of the world. The goal of her second album, 2009's Echo, is to prove that success was no fluke, to build upon "Bleeding Love" and turn Lewis into an actual diva. Certainly, Echo in any of its incarnations -- its song listings are tailored for individual markets, with the U.K. getting a cover of Oasis' "Stop Crying Your Heart Out," while the U.S. gets a second song co-written by Justin Timberlake -- uses the chilly, synthesized "Bleeding Love" as its foundation, creating a sheet of sound equal parts Euro-pop and modern American R&B. As opposed to the often-stuffy Spirit, this is proudly modern, and if the sounds emanating from the two sides of the Atlantic might seem to be aesthetically opposed, they're both producer-driven music constructed layer by layer from rhythm to the vocal, where the overall sound matters more than what's being sung. Which isn't to say that Lewis doesn't sing the hell out of the songs on Echo: she has an uncanny gift for hitting impossible notes without seeming as if she's grandstanding. In fact, there's nary an ounce of diva in Lewis, she seems to enjoy singing for the sake of it, which helps her out on an album like Echo, where the melodies are elliptical, not catchy, designed to showcase range, not to stick in the head or evoke emotion. Similarly, the productions are designed to hop into as many different formats as possible -- rhythmic enough for clubs, glassy enough for radio -- and they get by on feel, not feelings, with whatever heart in the music coming from Lewis, who is glad to sing, refusing to become the diva her legions of handlers so clearly want her to be.

Track Listing
1 Happy Bogart, Lewis 4:02
2 I Got You Birgisson, Kotecha, Martin 3:47
3 Love Letter Kasher, Rudolf 4:01
4 Can't Breathe Aminov ... 4:15
5 You Don't Care Lewis, Tedder 4:03
6 Outta My Head Kotecha, Martin, Shellback 3:40
7 Brave Bunetta, Frampton, Kotecha ... 3:37
8 My Hands Birgisson, Wroldsen 4:14
9 Alive Brisebois, Lewis, Shanks 3:30
10 Don't Let Me Down Elizondo, Fauntleroy, Lewis ... 4:36
11 Fly Here Now Bhasker, Lewis 3:41
12 Broken A. "Nowel" Stevenson ... 4:04
13 Lost Then Found Cates, Lewis, Muckala, Robbins ... 11:08