I’ve been following Imogen for some time now. I remember listening to “The Ministry of Sound – Chill Out Sessions 2006” on my way into work (at the time I had a job where I needed it!!!) and suddenly this track comes on that was totally amazing. The track was “Hide and Seek” from “Speak for yourself” and it perfectly captures what Imogen’s style is like. The track has no instruments on it but instead it is her singing with a vocal effect that turns her voice into the instrument as well as the song. It’s really an amazing track (and there’s a little bit of Beatles-esque stereo tom-foolery too). You may have heard it recently being butchered by a chap called Jason DeRulo and his track “Watchya say”. But don’t let that put you off.
Anyway, I’ve gone a little off-piste as this review is all about her new album “Ellipse”.
So, a bit of background information for you… Imogen Heap was born 9 December 1977 and comes from Romford. This is her third solo album but she has also collaborated on another album as part of the duo “Frou Frou” (which is also pretty good).
Her style, as I’ve kinda already mentioned, is heavily produced, singer-songwriter pop. It’s easy to listen to and generally quite catchy. Most of her tracks are relationship/observational based singing about the sorts of things that we probably all can relate to. Her second album had a track called “Goodnight Go” which is a really nice and happy song… then you listen to the words and you realise it’s all about her stalking someone. It’s fun.
And I think that’s what’s wrong with “Ellipse”. It’s much of the same but it’s a little darker and if anything, it’s over produced and over reliant on her voice – which isn’t that amazing in the first place.
That sounds bad, I know. And probably unfair too as I do really like Imogen Heap. But it’s as though she has had loads of praise about tracks such as “Hide and Seek” and she’s thought “Well, in that case, I’ll drop all of the instruments and nice tunes and go for me in a room singing”. It just doesn’t work. And although “Ellipse” is an OK album, it’s the sort that you just have on because you bought it recently and it might grow on you. It’s not the sort that you worry about listening too much because you might get bored of it and you don’t want to do that because you like it too much.
There’s one particular track “Bad Body Double” which is basically a big moan about looking in the mirror and not liking what you see. That’s fine and lots of people will relate but I’m not sure that people want to hear a good looking-millionaire singing about her muffin top – which she doesn’t have. The songs seem to tick the list rather than being from a writer that has had an experience that they felt they should write about.
So if I had to summarise “Ellipse” I’d say it was “OK”. Maybe “Alright”. “Nothing special”. It’s a nice album and you can put it on in the background whilst you wash your dishes or look for your house keys. But unlike “Speak for yourself”, I wouldn’t make a special point of laying on my sofa and listening to it.
Buy “Speak for yourself” and you will have a beautiful album in your hands. Buy “Details” by “Frou Frou” and you have a similar album to “Speak for yourself” but with some extra twists, and another worthy album. But save your pennies on “Ellipse” and wait for something better.
One G for this one.
As it happens, I’m going to see Imogen, for the first time, this Friday (19th February 2010) at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I’ll let you all know how she performs.