Ewok Spice releases solo debut that's sweet and summery and playful and blah blah yawn...
If, in the scheme of things, the Spice Girls‘ debut album was a ‘Star Wars’ for the pop industry, a year zero, a new hope, ‘Spiceworld’ would be ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (fan’s favourite, dark and scary ending.) And ‘Forever’ is ‘Return Of The Jedi’ (great special effects, too many Muppets for most people’s taste.) Then Emma Bunton‘s first solo outing seemed destined to be ‘Caravan Of Courage’ (nothing but Ewoks!)
As it stands, the Ewok count is fairly low on ‘A Girl Like Me’. Projected collaborations with Bryan Adams, Jam & Lewis, and Rodney ‘uh…Darkchild…yeah yeah…2000…etc’ Jerkins have been jettisoned in favour of safer contributions from Spice producer Biff, Boyzone writers Sturken & Rogers, and Steps main-man Andrew Frampton who, with ‘Spell It O.U.T’, delivers the most Destiny’s Child/Janet Jackson moment.
But it’s very much R&B-lite as you’d expect from Emma who’s always been, intrinsically Spice Girls-lite. No showing off, no shouting, no swearing and no nervous breakdown for her. Unfortunately it’s often those four ingredients that are essential to pop. Without them… well, we’re left wanting.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with the album. There are several lovely moments. ‘Take My Breath Away’ is pure summer in a bottle (or is that Sunny Delight’s new ad-slogan?) ‘Sunshine On A Rainy Day’ transforms into Gabrielle’s ‘Rise’ with a gospel choir going at it full tilt and ‘We’re Not Gonna Sleep Tonight’ (dedicated to the Girls) could’ve been a contender for the – sadly never made – second Mel & Kim LP. There’s nothing WRONG with it. It’s more a case that her heart is in the right place but her soul is nowhere to be seen.