Leona Lewis is readying the release of her 3rd album, Glassheart, on November 28th, and I think this one might be a make-or-break for her. Being the only X-Factor UK winner who has made it big outside of the country, Leona has been one of my favorite vocalists of this generation. Her first album, Spirti, was just a bit above the standard Idol/XFactor debut album, filled with sappy ballads and likeable if boring mid-tempos. But it is in her live performances and quiet and gracious personality that has always sold me. Her follow-up, Echo, garnered very little success for her and did nothing to disspell people's opinion of her being a boring version of Mariah Carey. Personally, I thought there were some fantastic tracks on the album, but it was overstuffed with the wrong kind of material.
So, that brings us to the present. I think that if Ms. Lewis comes with another boring LP, she will find herself in a position not much better than her fellow XFactor and Idol winners (most of them have been dropped from their label and have failed to find a new one.) However, I have a good feeling about it. Collide, the first single on the album, may not be the best dance jam of the year, but it has Avicii's strong signature sound to it, and her voice sounds as angelic as it always has. And she recently sat down with DigitalSpy to discuss the album, its direction, and some other goodies about the upcoming era...and I have to say I am happy about most of it! Catch some of the highlights below:
The album finally has a title - what can you tell us about Glassheart?
"So the album is such a eclectic mix. I've really got to delve into every kind of music that I love, really try everything and make the best of everything. Because I love so many different genres, it's kind of hard to just pick one thing to do, so I just did everything!"
There's a lot of buzz about a track called 'Trouble' right now. Is this going to be the track to launch the album?
It's received comparisons to Massive Attack from the few who have heard it...
"It's got an element of that in it. A bit of trip-hop, a bit of flavor - I've just never heard anything like it, which is why I was like, 'This is very cool'."
Have you finalized the album tracklist?"Not yet, but I'm almost there. I want to make a ten-track album. It's difficult to do that, but I think we're going to accomplish it. I want the strongest [tracks] and that's it - no fillers or anything. I want the strongest songs and I think we have them."
How has recording Glassheart compared to your experiences on Spirit and Echo?
"It's been a bit different because I have gone on tour, had time off, had different things happening and I was just at a different place when I was doing this album. I was given a bit of free range to do it."
Do you really enjoy getting on stage and changing up the tracks for the live performances?"Definitely! Obviously you want to keep the essence of it, but it's nice to change it up once in a while. We did that with quite a few of the songs on tour."
Has this has any effect on the new album?
"Well, when I was on tour, we mixed a lot of dancer beats on it - my cousin actually reproduced a lot of the ballads. I've taken more of that sound into the album; we've got a lot of piano and live instrumentation. I've a song called 'Fireflies' which I really, really love and hope we get to do as a single. it's a really good one. And it's got a guy on it!"
So it's a collaboration with someone we know?
"Yes! But I'm not saying who! [laughs]"
How important is chart success, in particular in America, to you?"Obviously everyone wants to be successful because they want to continue doing music, continuing to do what they love. It's important, but it's not everything. I just want to give people what they want to hear, the best of me, and great songs. That's all that matters. I just want to connect with people everywhere."
You were due to head to the US to tour with Christina Aguilera. It must have been disappointing to see those plans scrapped.
"I was really sad when that didn't happen! Obviously we'd planned a lot; to do the Christina one, Europe in between - and then Europe couldn't happen because the American one didn't happen. It really upset us. I just wanted to continue being on the road. I hope next year I'll be able to get back on."