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Leona Lewis breaks out of her shell for “I Am”

Leona Lewis’ past four albums have made her notorious for boring love songs and self-imposed victimization. However, her fifth studio album, “I Am,” released on Sept. 11, reveals a new and refreshed Leona.

“Thunder,” the first single, and “Fire Under My Feet” are songs filled with strong and energetic choruses that will leave listeners feeling more empowered than ever.  In a recent interview with iHeartRadio, Lewis stated that she intended for the album to, “be really uplifting. It’s all about going through certain challenges, getting through it and learning your strength.”

As a listener, I could hear Lewis’ passion and strength, which is something that I have never heard in her previous four albums. In those past albums, her vocals have been quite weak, making it difficult to understand whether or not she is serious about her music. In “I Am,” Lewis’ vocals are more powerful than ever. When she sings, it feels like she really means what she says.

The themes of strength and survival continue throughout the rest of the album, and they are particularly evident in “I Am” and “Power,” in which Lewis involves dance-pop influences like Disclosure and Ella Henderson. Surprisingly enough, Lewis is able to deliver strong and emotional ballads without seeming overly dramatic.

Though a majority of the songs are about female empowerment and survival, Lewis still stays in touch with her roots, love songs. “You Knew Me When,” Lewis’ Adele-like song, laments her past relationships yet focuses on how the failures of old love have made her a warrior. This is similar to “Another Love Song,” where Lewis involves reggae beats to express that love will never keep her down.

“I Am” has created a unique sound for Lewis, potentially due to the fact that this is her first album with her new record label, Island Records. For the past seven years, Lewis was signed to Simon Cowell’s Syco Records. She first signed with Syco after winning “The X Factor” UK in 2006.

This album has truly matured Lewis, as she is no longer a damsel in distress. “I Am” features exciting and exhilarating pop-music with a touch of a passionate and romantic soul. There is no exact consistency since songs are pop, soul and rock, and this makes the whole record entertaining to listen to.

Since this is Lewis’ first album with a new record label, she is clearly still experimenting with new sounds to find her niche. Whatever sound she chooses to stick to, Lewis needs to continue expressing her creative passion as “I Am” is one of her best albums yet.