Sophie Ellis-Bextor has abandoned the dance floor in her latest album, ‘Wanderlust’. In an uncharacteristic move, the British songstress has forgone her trademark synth and electro sounds in her collaboration with English singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt. The result: endearing, romantic ballads and sentimental folk songs with a hint of darkness. We love it!
Some people think of Sophie’s thin, soft vocals as a weakness, limiting her to one type of music without scope for experimentation – but with this album, Sophie has proven that she can’t be pigeonholed. She has made the most important album of her music career, and as a singer, she has evolved.
Listening to ‘Wanderlust’, we can assume the album is dedicated to Sophie’s fans in Russia, where she has garnered an impressive following. The opening song, “Birth Of An Empire”, is melodramatic, dominated by typically Middle-European string sounds and featuring deep, thoughtful lyrics that depart from Sophie’s standard synth-pop songs.
In “Until The Stars Collide”, Sophie shows off a darker side. It’s amazing to hear what her voice can do here. The song’s contrast to previous track, “Runaway Dreamer” is testament to Sophie’s unpredictability, where the former happy song boasts a lighter tone and gives a hint of her romantic and melancholy side.
“Sentimental” is the perfect word to describe Sophie as we listen to her folk-influenced tracks such as “13 Little Dolls”; “Cry To The Beat of the Band”; and “Love Is A Camera”. The latter is the album’s odd one out, and yet it’s the best track off ‘Wanderlust’.
Sophie’s songwriting partner, Ed Harcourt, has certainly worked hard to make people see a different side of her – one who doesn’t always need to dance. In contrast, her last album, ‘Make a Scene’, was a failure. It’s great to see Sophie leave her comfort zone to explore her musicality – and the result is a proven crowd-pleaser.