Despite a considerable burst of success with her U.K. double platinum debut album Schizophonic, Geri Halliwell had lost considerable momentum by the time she came to her third solo record in 2005. The blame for this turn of events falls largely on Halliwell herself. Her cartoonish personality worked wonders on cheeky gay disco fluff like "Bag It Up" and "Mi Chico Latino" in 1999, but on her second set, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, she allowed that persona to detract from the music, resulting in an overly boisterous and largely unlistenable collection of weak tunes and ridiculous excesses. Passion finds Halliwell at a crossroads then. After a few years out of the public eye and with the commercial disappointment of Scream If You Wanna Go Faster to overcome, she has plenty to prove. The album is marketed as her most personal effort to date, the liner notes gush in typical Geri fashion about the ups and downs she has experienced in the last few years, and how they have influenced her songwriting. Although she hasn't turned into Jewel just yet, Passion is markedly more ballad-heavy than her first two albums. She's never been much of a singer, but the pretty arrangements of songs such as "Feel the Fear" and "Let Me Love You More" overcome her vocal shortcomings. Lead single "Ride It" is a fine slice of campy dance-pop, the kind of which Halliwell has always sounded most comfortable with. It easily hit the U.K. Top Five and re-established her position somewhat. Better still is "Love Never Loved Me," a genuine disco song for the 21st century, with heartbroken lyrics over a pulsating dance beat. It's possibly the best thing she has ever done outside of the Spice Girls. There are some failures on the album, but to Halliwell's credit, her album filler is never dull. "Desire" is a strange, sexually charged mix of Shirley Bassey and Madonna which is certainly different, but ultimately doesn't quite work. Opening and closing tracks "Passion" and "So I Give Up on Love" represent a supremely ill advised effort to re-create the cheeky lounge singer vibe of performers like Eartha Kitt and Marilyn Monroe. Halliwell just does not have the range for this kind of material, and she winds up sounding ridiculous. Overall, Passion is a much more appealing record than Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, with enough enjoyable tracks to make up for the handful of disasters. If she can just strike the right balance between her pop sensibilities and the enormity of her personality as she did in the Spice Girls and on her solo debut, she may yet be a force to be reckoned with again.
AllMusic Review by John Lucas