Leona Lewis unleashes powerful vocal talent on ‘I Am’

At times, artists thrown into the spotlight so suddenly can easily fade away. For these artists, their 15 minutes is a disappointing conclusion to their short story. The struggle to continue releasing music is met with assorted singles and randomly released EPs, each charting lower than the one before it. One artist who knows the struggle but has somehow managed to stay above the fray is Leona Lewis.

Consistently in the Top 40, Lewis’ career has been met with a steady flow of fame. While experiencing many of the difficulties of a long standing artist including label troubles and declining first-week sales, Lewis has managed to stay the course by producing staple records with long lasting vitality rather than viral smash hits.

With the release of Lewis’ fifth studio album, “I Am,” the powerhouse vocalist has experienced a kind of rebirth. Parting from her previous dealings with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music, Lewis’ new direction with Island Records is emotive and compelling. For the X-Factor winner, “I Am” is certainly a raw and impressive endeavor considering its tumultuous foundations. From musical disagreements to Lewis’ actual parting from the label, “I Am” is, at the very least, pleasing.

The lead single, “Fire Under My Feet,” is a thumping pop track that is one of the strongest on “I Am.” Similar in style to Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” “Fire Under My Feet” is an upbeat and danceable song. Prideful and triumphant, each moment of “Fire Under My Feet” is a look back at the potential held by Lewis. Her impressive vocals smashing through a pacing beat help showcase Lewis’ undying soul.

On “Ladders,” Lewis finds herself shimmering at her brightest. By far the most experimental and pop-driven track off of “I Am,” “Ladders” is slick and carefree. Looping instrumentals mixed with Lewis’ powerhouse vocals turn “Ladders” away from a typical pop song into a blasting dance track.

Like smash-hit “Bleeding Love,” “Another Love Song” shares the same sense of long-lasting love and memorability. Danceable and swooning, “Another Love Song” hits the perfect spots to showcase what made Lewis so popular during her days on television. Easy to see as a Billboard hit, “Another Love Song” holds Lewis to expectations.

While tracks like “You Knew Me When” can sometimes fade away following its completion, Lewis still manages to hold off an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Other tracks like “Thank You” and “Power” experience a similar feeling, but are ultimately still acceptable.

Overall, “I Am” is a pleasant addition to Leona Lewis’ growing repertoire. Certainly a mainstay in the music industry, Lewis’ future is one that should be met with continued success. “I Am” represents the kind of direction other pop stars should take notice of. While remaining in the pop sphere, the sophistication presented by “I Am,” is a conscious direction. While sometimes stagnant, “I Am” still hits many of the marks of an accomplished record.
Rating: 3 out of 5