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Rebecca Ferguson: Freedom (Syco/RCA)

Rebecca Ferguson

Rebecca Ferguson

Freedom

(Syco/RCA)

It's a relative thing, obviously, given the context, but pushed to choose my favourite X Factor/Britain's Got Talent/Voice UK album, it would be Heaven by Rebecca Ferguson. Sure, she was aiming for Amy and Macy and Motown, but those are better role models than the Xeroxed contestants who copycat each other week in, week out.

This makes follow-up album Freedom doubly disappointing. It only takes until track two, Fake Smile, before things hit a (nearly literal) false note via the synthesised instrumental texture that's slotted in where a proper soul-horn backing should be.

The determined move away from jazzier influences on her debut continues with My Best, where Ferguson stops channelling Aretha Franklin and settles for Heather Small instead. It's a synth-soul anthem (as are Beautiful Design and others) that hires Alexandra Burke's Hallelujah gospel singers to provide overstated back-up.

I usually like where she's coming from lyrically, particularly the stand-up-on-your-own stuff, but the fiercer, more forced delivery of the likes of My Freedom only ends up being less affecting. Perhaps this new direction will ensure her some sort of longer-lived arena status, but it's already damaging her reputation as a genuinely unique artist who was once a world away from other flash-in-the-pan reality-show wannabes.

ALAN MORRISON

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Arts and Entertainment

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