The Magic Whip
Andrea Begley, the winner of series two of The Voice, must be releasing this debut album with a degree of trepidation.
Begley's predecessor as Voice winner, Leanne Mitchell, spent a year writing and recording her first record, only to see it flop at a humiliating number 134 in the charts – a stark contrast to The X Factor runner-up Jahmene Douglas, who rush-released a set of cover versions and flew to number one.
Understandably, Begley's people have decided to follow the Jahmene template rather than the Leanne one, which means that the Northern Irish civil servant's debut is with us only a few weeks after the show ended, packed with covers of artists as various as Jake Bugg, Evanescence and A-Ha, and aimed fair and square at the Christmas market.
At its very least, it is sweet and pretty. The partially sighted Begley has a warm, winning vocal, and while the world was hardly crying out for Radio 2-friendly versions of Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark, Disclosure's Latch and (sacrilege!) Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, they are sensitive and proficient.
Yet it's hard not to think that Begley is being undersold by this frantic dash for the cash registers. Of the two self-written songs here, the album's title track is a fairly standard-issue shoulder-heaving power ballad, but Autumn is a moving meditation on the end of love that could easily be the work of her musical idol, Irish folk siren Cara Dillon.
There is not much to go on here – but there is evidence, even so, that there is more to Andrea Begley than efficient karaoke.