Review Summary: With an excellent blend of pop rock, jazz, blues and soul, Lessons to Be Learned is fun, engaging and wonderful listen from an upcoming star, whose vocal techniques are simply wonderful.
There seems to be a new trend in music lately. No it isn’t metalcore, nor is it rehab centres, it’s the adaptation of female vocalists with a soulful rasp in their voice. To name a few, Duffy
, Amy Winehouse
, who all dwell within the British Isles. It seems that both the accent and location are a hot spot for these new stars, minus Winehouse who were are all well aware of. However, coming out of Australia’s city, Melbourne has been a rising star, who hit the ground running at a much younger age than her British counterparts. Gabriella Cilmi
at the modest age of sixteen has both the soulful unique voice and teen rock style associated with the other mentioned acts – but what sets her apart? Not much really, other than being of a different origin and age. Despite she has an infectious vocal range, and style, reminiscent of a fashionable cross between Macy Gray
and at times Anastacia
, she and her debut lacked the punch needed to slingshot into the charts within the United States.
Still, the release is amazingly well defined and produced, which will certainly give her the needed foundations to further her career. Part of the fun loving approach is due to song-writers Miranda Cooper
and Brian Higgins
, notably recognised for their efforts in the Xenomania
production company. While the team have made a few misses over the past amongst major success with artists such as Sophie Ellis-Bextor
and Kylie Minogue
, undoubtedly they have both provided with Cilmi a good point of song-writing style and approach that she can take on with her in the future projects. Together the group mix a good blend of Australian blues rock, jazz, soul and blues elements that make for an appealing listen, one that gives radio airplay something different to turn to after having being swamped with sugar candy pop and R & B from the Montana franchise.
The collection begins with the rocking out track “Save the Lies,”
which is somewhat of a bland atypical introduction, but a good place to introduce her vocal style. Certainly the next tune ”Sweet About Me,”
is one of the best songs released by an Australian artist on debut. A lot of songs focus on the chorus as the returning point for the listener’s attention, but Sweet About Me dumps that for a well rounded mix of brilliant singing and layered pop production on all levels. It doesn’t stop there either. The album heralds a marvellous group of both enjoyable and fantastic songs such as the ballads “Sanctuary and “Einstein,” evocative of Midnight Oil
’s ventures into slower territory. Then there’s the second single, “Got No Place to Go”
which succeeds in making a good teen rock track for the younger generation to bop to with a very clever use of Cilmi’s range and spontaneous rhythm.
While her vocals make the album, they still don’t save it from moments of monotony. It is indeed hard to keep the energy and rhythm on any album the whole way through, but nevertheless the latter half makes up the untimely mid-point with the soulful ballad “Safer,”
and the later blues voyage “Sit in the Blues,”
which concludes the release much better then how it began initially. At the end of the listen, you’re probably still wondering how someone so young could possibly have such a matured sounding voice… Sometimes questions go without answers, but for the moment, Cilmi, her voice and contract have a long way to go. While she’s been overshadowed by the timely debut releases of Adele and Duffy, who offer a similar type of sound, she’s still worth the listen if your willing to appreciate she’s within her musical infancy, and has done pretty well for herself, despite not having received the commercial acclaim. But there’s always the second album isn’t there?