Carrie & Lowell
This is what the inside of Simon Cowell’s head sounds like.
When 2013 X Factor winner ‘Screw-bo’, a.k.a. 36-year-old Leicester prison warder Sam Bailey, first hove into view on the show, she looked to have generous helpings of personality and original talent. Her idiosyncratic reading of Beyoncé’s Listen brought all four judges to their feet, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, her rushed-out debut album is an unmitigated disaster. The cynical, clammy hand of the SyCo killer is all over this grisly selection of (nearly all) covers, which Bailey howls as if still on board the cruise ships on which she performed for so many years before Saturday-night fame came calling.
A melismatic cover of Jennifer Rush’s gruesome 1984 power ballad gives the album its name, opens proceedings and sets the tone for a record that is big on bombast and utterly bereft of nuance or personality. Bailey’s melodramatic, cabaret muggings of Shania Twain’s From This Moment On and Oleta Adams’s Get There are so overblown that they leave Mariah Carey sounding like Bon Iver.
She lays it on equally thick on duets of Jennifer Holiday’s And I Am Telling You with X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, and on Ain’t No Mountain High Enough with Michael Bolton, which is quite the grimmest thing you will hear all year. In a very crowded field, it is the worst album made by an X Factor winner to date. What an achievement!