Rebecca Ferguson, Freedom: Album review - 'A heartwarming journey from loss to fulfilment'
Emotional power raises the album above a simple collection of songs
There’s a moment, right at the end of Freedom, when all the music drops away and leaves Rebecca Ferguson’s voice alone, wearied but unbowed: it’s as if the music, with its punchy rhythms and stirring arrangements, has been driving her along, willing her to reach this goal of self-realisation, and finally she can rest, complete.
It’s the title-track, one of two songs here that include the word “freedom” in the title, and it’s clear this is the overriding issue behind all the other songs too, right from the opening stomp-drum chords of “I Hope”, where she wishes an ex-lover well as she takes a leap into the void: “After a time I realised that for me to grow, I’ve got to let go”.
The early part of Freedom is taken up with this break. The melody and background humming of “Fake Smile” is about getting over a break up, and there’s an earthy quality to her delivery that speaks of painful experience. The John Legend duet “Bridges” finds those crossings finally burned; and the marvellous tribal stomper “My Best” echoes Nina Simone’s “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” in its determination to build from the beginning, Ferguson realising “You’re at your best when there’s nothing else left”.
From there on, the healing process takes over. “Every hurt I will keep, like gold in my pocket,” she resolves in “Hanging On”, the phoenix theme further extended through “Wonderful World” and “We’ll Be Fine”, until “I Choose You” – one of a couple of tracks which seem to take solace in her children – finds her fulfilled: “I choose happiness, I choose being myself”.
It’s this satisfying emotional arc that gives Freedom much of its power, and raises the album above the level of simply a collection of songs. But the masterstroke may be the decision to open with the ebullient “I Hope”, which provides the initial charge to get over the early succession of break-up songs, setting up that final pay-off where she faces the world, alone but her own.
Download: I Hope; Fake Smile; My Best; Beautiful Design; Freedom
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Eurovision 2015: Finnish punk band with learning disabilities applies to raise awareness
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Aidan Turner interview: 'being a sex symbol is a little awkward'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'