When Natasha Bedingfield burst into the consciousness of US pop fans in the fall of 2005, she was a breath of fresh air with intelligent, literate lyrics and a sassy vocal tone to match. Unfortunately, her second solo album, massively reworked from her corresponding second album in the UK, is simply another professional, corporately polished pop record. Songs and vocals are reasonably solid, but it's hard to hear inspiration.
Scrubbed and Reworked Version of Bedingfield's UK Second Album
It's never a good sign when an artist releases an album on one side of the Atlantic and the record label gets cold feet delaying the album on the other side of the Atlantic indefinitely. Following her huge debut splash with the album Unwritten, record label executives were understandably eager for new material. In this context N.B. was released in the UK with lead single "I Wanna Have Your Babies." Controversy ensued over the single and its accompanying video prompting an indefinite delay for the album's release in the US. Now, the album Pocketful of Sunshine is out in the US with half of the songs from N.B. and the rest new tracks. "I Wanna Have Your Babies" is nowhere to be seen.
Attention Wanes While Listening
The biggest problem with Pocketful of Sunshine is that it's very easy to find one's mind wandering while listening. Natasha Bedingfield has an appealing, aggressive vocal style. However, even that animated singing approach isn't enough to keep boring, repetitive lyrical content from sinking the album. Admittedly, Bedingfield has stated that she has moved to a point in life where she is looking for a long-term partner and is more focused on romance. However, from the songs here, unfortunately, her love life seems rather dull. There is neither a good dose of dramatic angst nor giddy excitement over potential partners.
Top Tracks on 'Pocketful of Sunshine'
- Pocketful of Sunshine
- Love Like This featuring Sean Kingston
- Say It Again
Enough Artistic Credibility to Wait for the Third Album
The best moments here include a few moments of pretty longing on "Soulmate" and the irrepressibly sunny, but forgettable "Love Like This" featuring Sean Kingston. However, the bracing catharis of "Unwritten" feels far away. Natasha Bedingfield's voice is strong enough and her past words have shown enough flash that I will wait for a third album and hope for the return of the brash artist we all first met. There's nothing unpleasant here, but the album feels ultimately skippable. Most pop fans hoped for much more.
Album released by Epic Records January 2008.