It's definitely night and day for Australian sensation Delta Goodrem. On her last US release, she was understandably dark and deep as she was going through a difficult and much publicized (in her native Australia) bout with cancer. After two years, the 24 year old is full remission and a newfound sunny outlook on life, which is very evident in her latest US release of her self-titled album, 'Delta.' The album already has been out in Australia, Asia and Europe since last October, but in North America, you had to wait till July 15.
The Mercury Records release begins with the reflective, wispy, and ethereal 'Believe Again.' The musical arrangement is very similar to a Sarah Brightman, with the string arrangement at the beginning and the light synthesizing. Her crystalline voice and overall breeziness also helps set the tone very early on, with the breeziness a refreshing change from the darker overtones in her last album. 'In This Life' has seen immense success as a single in her native country and it is also the key single sent to radio outlets in the US and we see why as songs like 'In This Life' are better suited to Delta's vocal range and talent. The musical arrangement in 'In This Life' is free of synthesized beats and wispiness which allows Delta's naturally soaring voice to be the focal point of the song. The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but there is a deep sense of sunny optimism...if you don't find yourself moving and perhaps rising to the words and music, you might need an emotion check.
In 'Possessionless,' we see Delta get a little soul, a la Natasha Bedingfield, so we see more sunny optimism, a theme carried over in 'In This Life.' But once again the synthesizers keep Delta from utilizing her vocal talents to its core. It's a good song though, but there's an air missing to it. 'Bare Hands' is a very interesting song to note on her album as at first the dancefloor beats may suggest disaster, but in this case limiting her vocal range works in this case as the beats and lyrics allow her to explore her lower vocal range, which at times in the album doesn't work but on a song like 'Bare Hands' with the Sarah Brightman-like charm...limiting her works.
The weakest song on the album is the dance floor/club-friendly 'You Will Only Break My Heart.' The lyrics are fine, but the execution and musical arrangement seems to be all over the place. It is an obvious attempt at reaching a wide mainstream audience, and the attempt seems to have fallen flat on its face with the chaotic arrangement. It would suit Delta to avoid such songs in the future. She returns to classic form in the much slower, but still uptempo ballad/girl anthem 'Woman,' which shows off Delta's poignant and sensitive sides. The song becomes far much more satisfying to hear after getting a dose of bad chaos on 'You Will Only Break My Heart.' Another key and perhaps future US single is 'Brave Face,' which also like 'In This Life' allows Delta to soar vocally and deliver a heart-punching punch.
Overall, 'Delta' returns to more closer to her debut album than her second album, which was darker and raw for obvious reasons so any notion that Delta would become the Aussie answer to Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette has been dispelled by the new album. There should have been more of the poignant and wispy ballads that allowed Delta vocal space but a song in the vein of 'Bare Hands' shows clear vocal range and a rare instance where synthesized beats didn't limit what she could do vocally. The album shows a natural progression though as the production is at its current slickest and a clear attempt at cracking the mainstream audience in the US and Canada, a notoriously fickle group. Music-wise, Delta doesn't stick out from the slew of female singer-songwriters like Sara Bareilles, Kate Voegele, Katy Perry, and KT Tunstall but her personality, breezy optimism, and songs like 'In This Life' may help break into the US and Canadian markets.
Label: Mercury Records
Release Date: July 15, 2008 (US)
My rating: 4.3 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head and regional head of the Midwest region at Musiqtone.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this feedback form below.