14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Down To Earth - with a bump,
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This review is from: Down To Earth [Us Import] (Audio CD)
I loved Finally Woken - it was a wonderful first album full of naivety and exciting bass led tracks with the soft tones of Jem herself lulling you into warmth and security. It was fresh and exciting.
After a long break (4 unexplained years), and the inability to buy the CD in the UK, I tracked it down (on Amazon) as an Import from the US!!! (This girl is Welsh. Why isn't her album available in the UK?)
Down To Earth - rammed into my CD player and pressing play even as the draw is still closing - does not deliver the same quality however. Jem's orginality on Finally Woken is not matched here at all.
The first half of the album does have some good tracks "Down To Earth" (although it starts ponderously) promises some good things for the rest of the album with a softer base line, but it is still there. "Crazy" has a decidedly American feel to it, complete with banjo, which doesn't help as a second track on the album. "I Want You To..." is a fair track which harks back to a simpler time, but given a nice twist in its vocals that works well. "It's Amazing" is a competent track which is well produced but a little dull and monotonous, perhaps a little bland in a Dido vein. It is catchy in places, but I really think it suffers from being overly produced as it seems to have lost its heart somewhere along the line. "Keep On Walkng" is again in the same vein, but this time with the voice scratched up vynil style in an effort to differentiate it. "You Will Make It" is a long and self indulgent song that sounds like sonething composed specifically 9/11. It is reasonably sickly sweet, but with its piano and lone vocals it is barren and not in the least uplifting. "I Always Knew" is a return to former glory with great things going on with strings, bells and claps. Jem's vocal is wonderful on this track and her range is showed far more than other songs on the album. The lyrics are also quite personal for the singer and you feel the song has proper meaning. The song also feels like it is going somewhere and not just meandering like many others. And that's the good half of the album.
"Got It Good" is lounge music. Mostly piano and some muted percussion instrument I can't place, it is a disappointingly plain ballad. "Aciid!" is just terrible. What was she thinking? Playing like a Britney Spears rap it stops and starts and never ever sounds muscial enough to be on any album. Easily the worst song on the album. "How Would You Like It" is back in Dido mode and I dare say this will be indestinguishable on torrent sites from Dido's recent banality (and will probably be credited to her). It is an anonymous piece of music that will never be played by most listeners. "And So I Pray" is mercifully short but painfully plain. It's like woodchip wallpaper, the musical equivalent of Magnolia, any more boring and you will be asleep before it's finished its 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The problem is that the chorus sounds like the verses and vice versa. So the song goes absolutely nowhere. The last track on the album is "On Top Of The World"; another fluff filled song with no musical ambition other than elevator music. It's an awful way to end an album and really doesn't inspire me to search for her next one.
Overall, I am really disappointed in this album, having actively searched it out and Imported it. The sound quality is excellent but I feel the production values of the album have overshadowed the content. And the content is simply not good enough. Only "I Always Knew" is a standout track on an album of 12 songs. That's not good. (Compare this with Finally Woken's 7 standout tracks - They, Come On Closer, Save Me, 24, Wish I, Just A Ride, & Falling For You.)
If you like Dido I think this musac approach to an album will appeal to you, but I can't bear it. There is a definite Americanisation in this album and it makes for a bland selection of background wallpaper music. Nothing more. Jem was really bold and adventurous in Finally Woken and I live in the hope that she will return to this quirky interesting style in the future. Please Jem, be bold again.