So it’s coming to the end of October, and you know what that means. A surge of albums are coming our way in time for Christmas. Usually, we’re treated to greatest hits collections by some of our favourite artists. However, this time, music fans are in for a new kind of treat with British singer Ella Henderson’s debut album, Chapter One.
Ella shot to fame on The X Factor UK back in 2012 after she only managed to come sixth in the competition (again, living proof that you don’t need to win these shows to have a music career). Fast-forward two years later and Miss Henderson has managed to score a UK number 1 single with “Ghost,” which she co-wrote alongside Ryan Tedder. Her second single “Glow” has managed Top 10 in the UK and now, her debut album, Chapter One looks like it too is heading for the top of the UK album charts.
It’s also worth mentioning that she’s had success across Europe, Australia and New Zealand too. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Ella’s debut album. Here’s a track-by-track rundown.
Chapter One kicks off with a bang, first up is “Ghost,” which is has already become the fastest-selling single of 2014 in the UK. When you listen to “Ghost,” you can’t help but think Adele could’ve recorded this song, as it has hints of “Rolling In The Deep.” “Empire” is track two, and already it’s clear that Ella isn’t messing about on this album. This track is screaming to be a single. It’s a soaring ballad that will have you singing “Empire / empire / emmmmpiiiiiirrrreeeee” for at least a solid fifteen minutes after just one listen. Track three is “Glow,” which is Ella’s second single, and sounds a little bit like “Princess of China” by Coldplay featuring Rihanna. “Yours” is one of the slowest songs on the album, and you can imagine this being played at all future weddings. It’s a love song – nothing less, nothing more. The next two songs on the album are a bit, dare I say, “vanilla.” “Mirror Man” and “Hard Work” really do nothing for the album and are simply fillers.
I really wish track seven were a single. The song is called “Pieces,” and Ella hits all kind of crazy notes on this one. It’s fast paced, then it slows down, then it speeds up again. The X Factor star has really found her sound on this track. “First Time” is track eight, and it sounds totally different than anything else on the album. There are some R’n’B influences on this one, but it probably would have sounded better had it been recorded by another artist. It’s a good song, but is it great? Nope. “All Again” is that big power ballad that you just know stage moms will insist their kid sing at some audition. It’s a little annoying, just like a stage mom, I guess.
Track ten is “Give Your Heart Away,” and it’s fair to say this song makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Again, it’s a mid-tempo power ballad, but it’s clear that this is what Ella does best. Her vocals are on point here – well done Ella. So, what’s next for us? Oh no. It’s only track eleven, and “Rockets,” is a bit of a mess. It’s fair to say that this tracks stands out as the weakest on the album. It sounds totally different to anything else on Chapter One and it’s the definition of an album filler. It’s got a funky vibe that sounds almost 90s, but it breaks the flow of the thirteen track album. Perhaps Ella is experimenting with different sounds here, but there really is no need to include an average track on what is a nice debut album.
Suddenly, we go from the worst song on the album to one of the greatest with “Lay Down.” All we get here is Ella’s vocals and a piano, and it’s more than enough. It’s simply a beautiful song. Listening to the song, you can’t help but wonder, does this rising star actually shed a tear or two during the recording of the track? One would think yes. Her final track on the album is “Missed,” and the singer/songwriter actually performed this original song when she auditioned for The X Factor in 2012. What a lovely way to wrap up the album.
Overall, Chapter One is a strong debut, some stand out tracks are: “Ghost,” “Empire,” “Pieces,” and “Give Your Heart Away.” Some of the world’s biggest songwriters and producers were involved in the making of this album, from Steve Mac, who has worked with Kelly Clarkson and One Direction, to Noel Zancanella, whose credits include Maroon 5 and Colbei Caillit amongst others. As a debut album it’s very strong. It’s only going to be a matter of time before we get Chapter Two, and I can’t wait.