Gabriella Cilmi

Lessons to be Learned

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U.K.-based Australian teenager Gabriella Cilmi released her debut album at the end of March 2008 to critical acclaim but not much public notice. However, as is often the case, word of mouth spread slowly and the album built into a Top Ten hit as more people discovered it. Having co-written all of the tracks with the production team of Xenomania (the team behind Girls Aloud and the Sugababes, with whom she had just finished touring) Gabriella Cilmi delivered a confident album with styles varying from Eurovision pop-disco ("Messy," "Don't Wanna Go to Bed Now," and "Save the Lies") to cool 1950s swing jazz ("Awkward Lies" and the first single to be taken from the album, "Sweet About Me"), 1960s girl group pop ("Got No Place to Go"), and a few ballads ("Einstein," "Safer," and "Sit in the Blues"). The album closed with the only cover version, a faithful reproduction of Martha & the Muffins' "Echo Beach," which appeared on the U.K. version only. A good debut album, but it had all been heard before, many times in a crowded market, with her voice sounding like a cross between Anastacia and Joss Stone (particularly on opening track "Save the Lies," which also had a Kylie Minogue-style backing track). In particular, the recent albums by Duffy and Adele were brought to mind, with Cilmi sounding quite like Duffy on the song "Sanctuary" and therefore also evoking memories of Dusty Springfield -- not a bad thing, once again, but Duffy did it a couple of months before.

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