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
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show