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Dua Lipa impresses with debut self-titled album

December 8, 2017

As befits the current trend, the 2017 Brit Awards packed the Critics’ Choice category with solo artists. One of the three on the shortlist was Londoner Dua Lipa, possessor of a powerful and distinctive voice. That voice is one of the most nuanced you will hear in pop music currently, and the album reveals it as a versatile one too. On the strength of the material in her debut album you can certainly expect her to be a dominant force this year.

Her self-titled debut studio album was released on 2 June 2017. Its sixth single “New Rules”, became Lipa’s first number one in the UK. In doing so, it also became the first song in almost two years by a female solo artist to reach the top in the UK, since “Hello” by Adele in 2015. In December 2017, Lipa was named the most streamed woman of 2017 in the UK by Spotify.

The Albanian-born singer can do piercing tones like Rihanna, cutting through the texture in songs like the decisive “IDGAF”, but she can also do sultry, as on the utterly beguiling “Be The One”, arguably her best song to date. The closer you get to her voice the more exotic and tantalising she sounds. The only potential issue with her approach lies in the production behind the songs. While songs like “Lost In Your Light”, a mutual power-pop declaration of love with Miguel, work brilliantly, there is a suspicion of too much ironing out done behind the mixing desk on tracks like “Hotter Than Hell”. An admittedly thrilling song initially, it becomes quite transparent on repeated listens. Lipa’s sullen approach can work well on deadpan pop songs like “IDGAF”, a slice of ‘don’t mess’ attitude, and proves effective on the Lady Gaga-esque “Garden”. “When you bite your tongue does it draw blood?” she asks.

 

Lyrically the album is an intriguing brew of emotions, veering from insecurity and vulnerability to assertiveness and outright feminine power. “New Rules” is much more convincing, Lipa scornfully taking her man to task for only recognising her existence when he’s had a few: “Don’t pick up the phone, you know he’s only calling cos he’s drunk and alone.” If he’s any sense, the man in question will crawl away, tail between his legs.”Thinking ‘Bout You” takes a step back, painting a picture of loss, but feels unfinished despite its sentiments. “Homesick” is more effective, the least manipulated song on the album, and where Lipa takes her leave. A duet with a surprisingly reserved Chris Martin, it brings some welcome tenderness and a genuine sense of yearning. When she sings “Oh I wish I was there with you,” it’s a situation borne of the minute, rather than one subjected to days in the studio.

“It’s so nice to have people want to come to the shows and not just think that it’s just one single,” Lipa told Billboard in September. “They actually want to come and listen to the whole album and come to the experience, and I appreciate that so much.”

Dua Lipa is a vocalist of huge promise and ability, one whose future development should be watched closely. With this impressive first statement under her belt, the hope is that her talents will get more room and less post-production time. Her strengths honed, we will then really hear what she’s capable of.

Wanna enter for a chance to win some exclusive Dua Lipa merch? Enter a creative take on her hit “New Rules” through any medium including videos, lip syncs, essays, illustrations, graphics, haikus, poetry, video, art or whatever else you can come up with to express your perspective on the track! Send all entries to [email protected] by December 15 to enter.

 

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