The debut album from 2011 American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart, 2012's Listen Up! features the singer framed in slick, retro-influenced pop and R&B productions. Working with a handful of pop songwriting and production wizards including Busbee (Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry), Mike Elizondo (Nelly Furtado, Natasha Bedingfield), Rob Kleiner, MoZella, and others, Reinhart has delivered a solid set of catchy, dance-oriented cuts that maximize her sexy, playful persona and come off a lot hipper than you'd expect from a major label AmIdol release. Vocally, Reinhart has a cherubically gutsy, deeply resonant vocal sound perfectly suited for these boomy, '60s pop-influenced productions. In that sense, tracks like the punchy leadoff cut "Oh My!," the sultry lil'-diva single "Free," and the equally as swaggering and funky "Liar" are catchy, post-Amy Winehouse dance-soul productions that mix scratchy vinyl-sounding beats, blurty horn sections, driving piano lines, and some sassy backing vocal parts. Elsewhere, we get the pumping Motown-esque "Wasted Tears," the similarly engaging disco anthem "Now That You're Here," and the swoony girl group meets soft rock number "Wonderland." Definitely an ear-grabber, Listen Up! ultimately posits Reinhart as a kind of old-school pinup, a mini-Mariah Carey if she'd grown up listening to a mix of Dusty Springfield, Lisa Stansfield, and En Vogue.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar