Many my age will remember a time where you had a favourite Spice Girl. Baby (followed closely by Sporty) was my number one.
So much so that I forced my mum to queue with hundreds of other parents to obtain the elusive first dolls they released.
I didn’t end up with Baby during that first attempt (I settled for Posh), but I also connected to her persona and more importantly for me, she always had the best vocal parts.
Fast forward a few years, she went solo and I’ve been a big fan ever since.
What’s only her fourth solo album since 2001, ‘My Happy Place’, builds on where she last left us – a collection of slinky ’60s mod-pop inspired tunes featuring some original songs mixed in with curious covers.
Emma has alluded to the fact she naturally gravitates towards this style of music when writing and it really suits her voice.
The challenge of taking your time to create a follow up album is that expectation runs high – particularly if previous works were well received.
2004’s ‘Free Me’ and ‘Maybe’ are still sublime tracks today that featured special videos. While the visuals are now more budget friendly, the original songs and a few of the covers deliver a similar quality and joy which I love.
Lead single ‘Baby Please Don’t Stop’ is a little bit Bond, a little bit Bassey and definitely a bit Bunton. She sounds great and the delivery is honest and fun. The live performances of this song during her promotional tour also remind you that she is an extremely talented vocalist and she shines on this song.
The only other original song on the album, ‘Too Many Teardrops’, is full of life. It bubbles along nicely and while not something that will light the charts on fire, it certainly fits the theme of the album. I love that even though it’s a new song, it could feel right at home having Petula Clark or Olivia Newton-John perform it too. A great feat and a testament to Emma and her team’s writing abilities.
Regular readers of my reviews will know I hate a covers album at the best of times, normally because they aren’t particularly interesting. Thankfully Emma manages to throw some really beautiful collaborations together to make these covers sound fresh and relevant to 2019.
The pick of the bunch for me is a surprisingly tongue-in-cheek cover of Madison Avenue’s ‘Don’t Call Me Baby’. In the category of “covers I never expected to hear”, this one fits right in. Emma sounds brilliant on it but I feel she could have added even more of a ’60s vibe to it.
I also really enjoyed ‘2 Become 1’ featuring Robbie Williams and ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ featuring Will Young. The voices blending beautifully together on each duet.
As Spicemania ramps up again ahead of their summer shows in the UK, Emma is taking the opportunity to get her voice out there again.
It’s lovely to have some new solo music from Emma and who knows – she might make a visit to Australia either as a solo artist or with the girls sometime in the future so that us Aussie fans can visit our happy place.
VERDICT : 4/5.
MUST LISTEN : 2 Become 1, Don’t Call Me Baby, Baby Please Don’t Stop.