Pixie Lott's making a great show of stamping her personality over her third album, but is it really hers?
Perhaps it's just a coincidence that Lott's style and personal taste chime so conveniently with what's selling these days. Her latest reset makes her sound alarmingly like the female John Newman, and maybe that's no bad thing. It's certainly a direction with commercial potential and, in all fairness, Lott pulls it off.
She's always had a strong voice but hasn't always put it in the right places, searching instead for the right hit at the right time. Pixie Lott (the album) suggests Pixie Lott (the singer) is a genuine retro-soul diva, comfortable with the grandstanding ballads and the slinky R&B stompers.
There's plenty of the former here, with Leaving You swinging nicely around doo-wop piano and Break Up Song rolling along with southern-fried ease, Lott doing her slightly less pained Candi Staton. They're decent but she comes alive on the meaty, funky, vicious Kill A Man and the saucy dancehall-styled Bang, and single Nasty has real R&B oomph. For half an album, Lott sounds like the belter Mark Ronson's been looking for all his life.
The risk with these retro tools is slipping into pastiche, and Lott's way too close to Alicia Keys on Ain't Got You – with its familiar title too – and Ocean and Lay Me Down really could've popped up on John Newman's debut. Still, that's the market and Lott deserves to grab a bit of it.