Brand New Day

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Simply put, Ricki-Lee Coulter is a phenomenal vocalist. We saw it all throughout her run on Australian Idol, we saw it while she was a member of Australian sensation pop quartet the Young Divas, and we certainly saw it on her self-titled debut album, which was packed with mainstream tunes of strong vocals with slick R&B blends. Therefore, Ricki-Lee's obvious goal on her album would be to prove she's more than a stunning voice, and that she can be a bona-fide artist, correct? Wrong. At a first, cursory listen, Brand New Day is a terrific collection of disco-influenced jams and upbeat dance tracks. This is quite a nice change considering Coulter's other recorded material is heavy and dulled. Yet, on Brand New Day, the music is purebred joyful pop music, something that is rare in an era of guest rappers and computers. Highlights include the slow-burning yet fiery "Real Good Time," which bears resemblance to Joss Stone's most recent work Introducing Joss Stone, and "Love Is All Around," an infectious dance track which relies on influences from the '70s that highlight Ricki-Lee's summery bombing vocals. The album, at its catchiest, is embodied by "Can't Sing a Different Song." Toxic and sparking, Ricki-Lee flourishes on the album's classy radio-friendly tracks. "Brand New Day" is an empowering midtempo, passion-packed love tune, something you would find on a Natasha Bedingfield album. Yet there are some catches. Ricki-Lee never ceases to impress; yet at times, she over-sings, her vocals push shouting and overdramatic. Secondly, while Brand New Day is a new, breezy look at Ricki-Lee's career, it solely reenforces Ricki-Lee's ability to sing. She has only a few songwriting credits, and while she is a terrific vocalist, it's hard to see past her voice because the songs have no true emotional depth. Brand New Day is a strong album, and it certainly "brands" Coulter in an airy-pop setting, yet it's nothing "new" as far as Ricki-Lee goes as an artist. Musically, Coulter has expanded, yet artistically, she is still limited. Ricki-Lee has certainly proven that she can sing. We get it. Now, let's see if she can take it to the next level.

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