I was starting to worry about Rebecca Ferguson, last year’s X Factor runner-up. The two previous runners-up, Olly Murs and JLS, had released music before the winner in their year could get their album out, whilst Rebecca waited. I worried that she wouldn’t release anything, and that my favourite X Factor contestant would fade into nothingness. How wrong I was.
Rebecca Ferguson’s debut album Heaven lives up to all the acclaim it has been getting, and is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. Ferguson co-wrote every one of the ten tracks, and you can tell she means every word she sings. People accused her of lacking personality, but it shines through on every track. It might not be the most modern of records you’ll ever hear, but if you watched The X Factor last year you knew that wouldn’t be the path Rebecca would go down. She promised us a few weeks ago that the album would talk about relationships, love and loss, and she wasn’t wrong, with every song being about love.
We start with the lead single ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’, which just shows off Ferguson’s voice – a voice full of soul; a voice that I could listen to all day long. At only 33 minutes and 31 seconds Heaven is short, but there is no filler on this album and the decision to go with quality over quantity has really paid off. ‘Fairytale (Let Me Live Life This Way)’ reminds me of Gabrielle at her best, whilst ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ – about a dysfunctional relationship – is full of emotion and a gravel previously unheard in her voice, and shows off how brilliant Ferguson can be.
The highlight of the album for me is undoubtedly ‘Teach Me How to Be Loved’. It nearly brings me to tears when I listen to it. You can really feel that Rebecca has lived life and is meaning every word she sings, backed by a simple yet effective piano hook. When she sings “I’ve seen it all before”, there is no doubt whatsoever that she has.
It wouldn’t surprise me if ‘Mr Bright Eyes’ was written about her relationship with fellow X Factor contestant Zayn Malik, which was widely criticised by many due to the large age gap. As she sings “I don’t seem to care about what they say/All I really wanna do is think about you all day”, she seems genuinely happy. For fans of Rebecca’s up-tempo performances on the show, ‘Too Good to Lose’ and ‘Run Free’ have hints of the club classics Rebecca did so well.
Heaven is arguably one of the best albums produced from X Factor’s alumni, and with an album that focuses on one of the most naturally talented artists to ever come from a reality show; we might be seeing the birth of a genuine star.
Good: 33 minutes and 31 seconds of pleasure for your ears
Bad: There’s no studio version of ‘Sweet Dreams’, the best performance on X Factor last year.