Album: Cheryl Cole, 3 Words (Fascination)

Just as Whitney Houston's comeback album follows an autobiographical subtext in which most of the material deals with her overcoming her tribulations, so does Cheryl Cole's solo debut appear to follow an equivalent subtext in which the path to romantic fulfillment is pock-marked with treachery, uncertainty and secrecy.

"Now every day ain't gonna be no picnic/Love ain't no walk in the park", she acknowledges in "Fight For This Love", while the boozy metaphor of "Happy Hour" ("I'm never happy when I'm sobered up... 'cos you're my happy hour") is a double-edged sword. Elsewhere, beyond the self-explanatory themes of "Rain On Me" and "Heartbreaker" lurks a deeper undertow of paranoia in songs such as "Parachute", "Make Me Cry" and "Don't Talk About This Love", a fear that others are bent on destroying her relationship, so "the less they know, the less they judge". It seems a strange world to inhabit, where spite and cattiness are the anticipated response to happiness, but then she does sing in a girl group and judge on a talent show, so who knows? Musically, 3 Words is utterly bereft of imagination and risk, with tried and tested R&B producers such as, Louis Biancaniello, Wayne Wilkins and Taio Cruz doing what they do as dispassionately as possible.

Download this: 3 Words, Rain On Me