Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette - - Sound Out -

EL­IZA AND THE BEAR – GROUP THER­APY ★★★★★ EL­IZA and the Bear’s sec­ond al­bum of­fers an up­beat, in­spir­ing take on is­sues around men­tal health with a more synth-pop vibe than their de­but.

Lead sin­gle Real Friends is a high­light and truly dif­fi­cult to re­sist danc­ing along to, while Re­run and First Aid are slower, more melan­choly mo­ments with Sweat Out The Small Stuff a op­ti­mistic and poignant end to the al­bum.

The Lon­don-based group has mag­i­cally con­structed an LP that has real sig­nif­i­cance in en­cour­ag­ing con­ver­sa­tion about men­tal health, while also en­cour­ag­ing cheer and a bit of a dance.

SHERI­DAN SMITH – A NORTH­ERN SOUL ★★★★★ THIS is Sheri­dan Smith’s first al­bum of orig­i­nal songs and she’s clearly given it a lot of thought, hav­ing worked with writ­ers in­clud­ing Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer Jimmy Hog­a­rth.

Smith has had a dif­fi­cult few years fol­low­ing her fa­ther’s death in 2016, as well as her own health is­sues, and lays her­self bare in this jazzy, soul-in­fused col­lec­tion.

Her bluesy vo­cal suits the vibe, par­tic­u­larly on the slower songs with a big band el­e­ment, such as the ex­cel­lent The One and groovy Rem­edy In The Melody.

A high­light is the poignant Are You Just Sleep­ing, a song about los­ing a loved one, while Why Can’t I Fall In Love could be a pop at the head­lines that have long fo­cused on her “un­lucky-in-love” sta­tus.

JESSIE J – THIS CHRIST­MAS DAY ★★★★★ THERE were some quiet years from the singer/song­writer be­fore the re­lease of R.O.S.E. in Septem­ber 2017, then three months in China com­pet­ing on Singer 2018 –where she be­came the com­pe­ti­tion’s first Euro­pean win­ner.

Now Jessie J has fo­cussed on ramp­ing up fes­tive cheer with her first Christ­mas al­bum.

It is a se­lec­tion of well-trod­den clas­sics, plus the ti­tle song – the al­bum’s only orig­i­nal track.

She hasn’t stepped far from her reg­u­lar style and hasn’t re­ally added any­thing new to these Christ­mas sta­ples, which is rather dis­ap­point­ing. With a great voice and vo­cal range, this col­lec­tion could have been so much more.

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