Release Date: Apr 8, 2008
Record label: Sony
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, R&B
That stultifying adult contemporary atmosphere may makes Spirit stilted, but it's also as savvy a move as you could expect from Cowell: ever since Mariah long ago abandoned AC for the clubs, there has been a gaping need for a vocalist like Leona Lewis, a singer who can belt it out but is safe and tame, having no interest in the perks of stardom that exist beyond the stage. And boy is Leona Lewis ever that -- she is blessed with a terrific voice but very little on-record personality, something the very professional, very inoffensive tunes emphasize. Thanks to this collection of calculatingly commercial tracks -- tunes crafted to appeal to everyone yet no one in particular -- Lewis merely comes across as the most talented and most willing singer to ever play Cowell's game, so no wonder he loves her.
Obnoxiously, Simon Cowell was right - after a year of training and tweaking, 2006's X Factor winner has produced an album that says "actual career" rather than "lightning trip to Number One, then hello Burger King". Engorged with glossy 90s-style production by expensive US names like Salaam Remi and Dallas Austin, Spirit could even win Lewis bona fide stardom in America. And good for her.