Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Pop Idol
With Christmas around the corner, you can hardly move for X Factor-related stocking-fillers – recent weeks have yielded albums from One Direction, Matt Cardle, Cher Lloyd et al. But the best, relatively speaking, has been saved for last. Scouse soul-popper Ferguson, 2010's runner-up, has been spared the generic ballad/urban treatment and allowed to go her own retro-soul way, a move that makes the most of her rich, emotive voice.
Given this autumn's saturation of albums by X Factor alumni, you'd be forgiven for sidestepping the debut from last year's runner-up. For shame! Tugging profoundly on bittersweet 60s soul and Motown, Heaven is a fine album and, unlike Matt Cardle's oeuvre, notably free of Gary Barlow's pen, with Ferguson co-writing the majority. The only dud is "Run Free", which Ferguson sounds uncomfortable singing.
The debut from 2010 X-Factor runner-up Rebecca Ferguson, 2011's Heaven is a stylish, expertly produced contemporary R&B and pop album that showcases Ferguson's emotive, soulful voice. Working with longtime Adele collaborator Eg White, as well as a handful of other name producer/songwriters, Ferguson delivers a bevy of emotionally resonant and melodically infectious cuts perfectly suited to her dynamic talent. These are literate, thoughtful songs that balance a kind of singer/songwriter approach with a more club- and dance-oriented aesthetic.
OK, TV talent shows? You know the form. Vocal gymnastics of Olympic proportions matched by wannabe diva behavior have the judges reaching for the Thesaurus to find more synonyms for ‘you made the song your own.’ But if you are tired of singers who really smashed it, killed it, or are on a journey, then consider the UK’s Rebecca Ferguson. The Liverpudlian single mum of two came second in last year’s X Factor contest and maintained a genuinely touching old world charm and dignity throughout the competition.
An impressive debut album with the focus firmly on Ferguson's great voice. Nick Levine 2011 She came second to Matt Cardle on last year's X Factor, but unlike her hat-clad vanquisher, Rebecca Ferguson has yet to criticise her alma mater or claim "there's a lot of conspiracy" to the events of 9/11. The 25-year-old Liverpudlian has conducted herself in a fashion unexpected from a talent show star – with dignity.