What do you get when you put an iconic English pop artist and a well respected singer songwriter in the studio together? A funky and addicting pop album, that’s what!
‘Familia’ is the brainchild of Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Ed Harcourt and continues on from where ‘Wanderlust’ kicked off. It’s more acoustically driven with few of the electronic beeps and blips that featured heavily on her first few albums.
‘Wanderlust’ began the journey towards a more organic grown up sound, but she has alluded to this album being a bit more of the sassy sibling. And sassy it is.
The folky storytelling of ‘Wanderlust’ has morphed into something I’d liken to “sad-pop” mixed with disco. Robyn’s work is a particularly good example of this and I can’t help but feel that Ellis-Bextor and Harcourt have done well to capture a similar essence, albeit with a decidedly South American twist.
Rousing opener ‘Wild Forever’ is enough to light a fire under you and give you the push to live a little more freely. There’s something euphoric about it and I could listen to it on repeat for most of the day.
Heartbreaking yet hopeful, ‘Crystallise’ is one of the stunning ballads here. Sophie’s voice is beautifully paired with lyrics and an arrangement which shares a brilliant story. She’s currently filming a new video for this track and it looks as though it will be quite an arty affair.
‘Come With Us’ is a bit of a stormer. As the lead single for this project, it does a great job to capture the pure essence of the album. It’s an assault on the senses, but in a very good way. It’s disco, it’s rock, it’s pop, it’s world music… it’s an amazing blend of styles you can’t help but love.
My only complaint (and it’s really very minor) is that while there’s a good variety of songs here, it almost feels as if it’s hit one note. Sophie’s voice is at its best when she’s confidently rousing us to follow her lead, rather than taking a back seat. I can’t help but feel her strength across all the songs here but there is little vulnerability to contrast it.
By the end of the album, it feels like it’s all gone a bit too quickly. I am left hanging out for more. As another independent release, Sophie proves you don’t need the big labels to create some pop magic. And with the Brits giving her a top 20 placing on the offical charts, I’d say she’s doing quite well.
VERDICT : 4/5
MUST LISTEN : Wild Forever, Crystallise, Come With Us.