Leona Lewis – "Echo" Preview – "Happy", "I Got U", "Don’t Let Me Down" & "Brave" + Non-Album Tracks

Here are 4 tracks set to appear on Leona’s forthcoming sophomore album plus an even larger collection of tracks she has decided not to use for the project. The album tracks she has chosen, although few in number we have heard as yet, are disappointing and lack the quality of “Spirit”‘s fantastic tracklist throughout. The first single “Happy”, when revealed as a Ryan Tedder/Evan “Kidd” Bogart track before we heard it and bearing in mind Leona apparently lost their other superior track “Halo” to Beyoncé Knowles, is a little disappointing. The instrumentation is nothing special as opposed to “Halo”‘s stunning operatic intro and gorgeous piano chords and thumping beat throughout but thankfully Leona’s breathtaking vocal performance as always lifts the track above mediocre. After a few listens, I’m definitely a fan of the track but bearing in mind a track as strong as “Halo” could have been a choice for her and the anthem that was “Bleeding Love”, I think she should have come harder with her first single.
“I Got You” is a little different for Leona, I like the fact it has more of the guitar-based rock sound she hinted at with the album’s title and her previously mentioned direction of the album, although its not the strongest of songs and comes across as rather generic, I think it’ll be a decent album track at least.
Thankfully, third track “Brave” is a shining light for the project in my eyes and hints at quality to come on the album as my favourite of the four tracks we’ve heard up to now. It begins with Leona’s softspoken vocals over a quick strumming of a guitar and gentle strings, builds into a beat and eventually into the heavily sung chorus where girl shows off her famed vocal prowess.
The last track that has leaked before the album’s release was the apparently planned first single, The Y’s collaboration “Don’t Let Me Down”. Although I was hoping for something more like the Ciara tracks for Leona’s collabo with the guys I guess that’s too much a change in direction for a sophomore album but the track is definitely good enough. The haunting piano chords along with the echoing synth throughout are a beautiful canvas for Leona’s toned down falsetto vocals as well as JT‘s brief background vocals being a nice addition. (although I would have preferred James Fauntleroy‘s) The beat isn’t as pounding and heavy as Rob Knox‘s usual drumlines but hopefully this will be addressed in the album version of the track.
The problem with the tracks we’ve heard up to now is that they’re way too samey for my liking. Even though “Spirit” was a pretty generic collection of Quiet Storm/Adult Contemporary R&B tracks it was a strong one and every track had its own merit. Even the tracks that were produced by the same producers like “Bleeding Love” and “Take A Bow” (both Tedder productions) were different enough and strong enough tracks to make the album a quality catalogue of songs and a great listen. I’m just hoping the tracks we’ve yet to hear and those from usually upbeat producers like Max Martin and Xenomania are exciting enough to allow this album to surpass her debut offering. Which brings me to some of the amazing tracks she decided to leave off the album much to her peril.
Besides the nicely titled but pretty boring “Stone Hearts” and “Strangers” which both follow the organic, midtempo rock sound Leona has detailed in interviews but is too similar in tempo and style to each other and tracks like “I Got You” and “Happy”, the other tracks that were left off the album are actually far better than what we’ve heard of the final tracklist up to now.
The Ne-Yo demo “Can’t Fight It”, which was confirmed as an album track up until the official tracklisting dropped last week, much to my upset is absolute ecstasy and I’m still hoping it might make the cut as a bonus track at least. Unlike anything Leona has recorded before, the Stargate club banger is a sexy, gritty dance/R&B hybrid much in the same vein as Ne-Yo’s own track “Closer” and the tracks he has demoed for her fellow X-Factor alumni Alexandra Burke‘s debut (due out next week) “Goodnight, Good Morning” and “Nothing But The Girl”. I was so excited to hear Leona’s powerhouse vocals over such a quality upbeat club track and she is crazy to have left this off the album.
The other leaked track that in my opinion dwarfs the album tracks we’ve heard up to now is the haunting “Perfect Stranger”. With both a departure in sound again for Leona, along with a unique concept and some fantastic lyrics, the song details the singer wanting to forget about the lover she wants so much but who hurts her all the time and actually going for a clinical procedure to induce amnesia. Besides the strong conceptual aspect of the track, the instrumentation of it is also equally as enthralling with its off key piano and warped electro-style beat, I also love the call and response background vocals on the chorus (“oh”) which are rarely heard on a Leona track as she tends to shy away from contemporary R&B staples such as this except on rare occasions like “Forgive Me” and “Nowhere Left To Go”. Although I can see why she left off the Ne-Yo track as despite quality track, it might have been considered too big a departure in sound for Leona, I really can’t understand why a track like this would not have been first on the tracklist as it is downbeat/midtempo like all the other leaked tracks and would fit alongside them perfectly. Perhaps it was too dark-sounding I don’t know, but Leona made a massive mistake letting such a great track go to waste.
With the fact that Leona and her label have decided to take the safe route with her first single along with leaving off such exciting tracks as “Can’t Fight It” and “Perfect Stranger” and much anticipated collaborations with Timbaland/J-Roc/Jim Beanz, Toby Gad, Dr. Luke/Claude Kelly, Bangladesh, L.O.S. & Syience, I’m no longer that amped for the project unfortunately. Regardless, hopefully the album, due out November 17th, will surpass or at least equal the standard her fantastic debut set and I still have my fingers crossed it will be a quality album as a whole. In the meantime, you can check out the gorgeous cover above, as well as some beautiful promo shots, the tracklist + some of the credits for the LP below:

1. Happy 1st Single
[Leona Lewis, Ry
an ‘Alias’ Tedder, Evan ‘Kidd’ Bogart]

2. I Got You
[…, Ryan ‘Alias’ Tedder?]
3. Can’t Breathe
4. Brave
[…, Ryan ‘Alias’ Tedder?]
5. Outta My Head
[Savan Kotecha, Martin ‘Max Martin’ Sandberg, Johan ‘Shellback’ Schuster]
6. My Hands
[Ina Wroldsen, Arnthor Birgisson]
7. Love Letter
8. Broken
[…, The Runawayz – Sam Watters & Louis Biancaniello, Rico Love, Wayne Wilkins?]
9. Naked
10. Stop Crying Your Heart Out
[…, Oasis?]
11. Don’t Let Me Down
[The Y’s: James Fauntleroy, Justin Timberlake & Robin ‘Rob Knox’ Tadross, Mike Elizondo]
12. Alive
[…, The Writing Camp, Wayne Wilkins?]
13. Lost Then Found F/ One Republic -> Varsity Fanclub
[Ryan ‘Alias’ Tedder, Evan ‘Kidd’ Bogart]

[…, Brian Higgins]
Produced by Xenomania

[…, Julian Bunetta]

[Alonzo ‘Novel’ Stevenson, …, John Shanks]
Produced by John Shanks

—-Other Tracks :

Can’t Fight It
[Ne-Yo, Mikkel SE, Tor Erik Hermansen]
Produced by StarGate

[Ina Wroldsen, Arnthor Birgisson]
Produced by Arnthor

I Will Always Love You F/ Justin Timberlake
[Dolly Parton]
Produced by The Y’s [???]

Perfect Stranger
[…, Ryan Tedder]
Produced by Ryan “Alias” Tedder

Save Myself
[Leona Lewis, Savan Kotecha, Ryan Tedder]
Produced by Ryan ‘Alias’ Tedder

Stone Hearts

[…, Ryan Tedder]
Produced by Ryan “Alias” Tedder

Thank You Thank You
[Ina Wroldsen, Chris Braide]
Produced by Chris Braide

[Leona Lewis, Lindy Robbins, Toby Gad]
Produced by Toby Gad

You Don’t Care
[…, Ryan Tedder]
Produced by Ryan “Alias” Tedder

Your Heart
[Ina Wroldsen, Mich Hansen, Jonas Jeberg]
Produced by Cutfather & Jon
as Jeberg

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