Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Alesha Dixon - The Alesha Show (Asylum)

It’s not difficult to comprehend the popularity of Alesha Dixon. She’s a grafter, she’s an underdog, and she’s a rare talent. But given the recent failures of any number of British female pop artists (actual number: ALL OF THEM), is it enough to give her solo career the launch it deserves, second time around?

With the release of her second post-Misteeq record – technically a debut, as a result of Fired Up never actually reaching UK shelves – it’s interesting to see whether The Alesha Show can (a) house that talent to the best possible effect, and (b) prompt the people who picked up the phone to vote for Dixon’s foxtrot to actually part with cash for her album.

Given her role as MC-in-chief during the era of Misteeq, it’s easy to question Dixon’s capabilities as a singer. However, vocally she proves herself to be considerably more powerful than one might expect, with a distinctive character that permeates the gut-wrenching balladry right through to uptempo flailing-round-the-handbag numbers, with the aquatic digi-sonnet of Breathe Slow acting as a key example of the former to fantastic effect.

It’s not all good news, mind – the puerile, dated Ooh Baby I Like It Like That follows through on the promise set by the cringe-inducing title. And on the whole, the most exciting tunes on The Alesha Show would function as the ‘safe’ tracks on a Beyoncé album. But it’s important to distance Alesha Dixon from such comparisons – she’s not a dead-eyed meowing singles vehicle like Rihanna, nor is she a bellowing dullard with predictably KO vocals a la Leona Lewis. Dixon is very much a pop artist, very much a British artist, and in effect, a new artist. As a result, she’s very much a liability. How many ballad-laden fillerfests did Girls Aloud spew out before having the confidence to unleash something as daring as Sexy! No No No?

Not that The Alesha Show is by any means weak as an album, it merely treads incredibly carefully. And yet, it’s impossible to try and contain the effervescent, lovable nature that’s made Dixon a national treasure for the Noughties. The Alesha Show does precisely what it says on the tin, and provides a comfortable platform for a tremendous personality. While the music on the whole may be mildly nondescript, it’d be impossible to mistake the album for anyone other than Alesha Dixon. And if there’s any justice, The Alesha Show will successfully pave the way for greater and greater follow-up albums to showcase that personality – and sizeable talent – even better.

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