There has been a persistent undercurrent of eighties nostalgia that has informed contemporary music for the last little while now. Unlike many progenitors of today’s eighties influenced music, English singer Lisa Stansfield is not only old enough to remember the decade, she was busy making music throughout it, first as the winner of the Search for a Star competition, then as part of Blue Zone, and finally as a fully-fledged solo artist. So given her long musical history, it’s difficult to gauge whether the distinct eighties vibe from her eighth solo album, Deeper, is an act of sentimentality or an indication of being unable to progress.
Billionaire ably demonstrates Stansfield’s vocal abilities, with layerings and harmonies coaxing the full range out of her soulful voice. It has a fine vibe, which makes it easy to see why it was selected as the album’s lead single. While Billionaire’s excellent production values and Stansfield strong voice consistently feature on Deeper, the album never achieves lift-off. Everything is so purely eighties sounding that it’s hard to believe that the song isn’t thirty-years-old, but it’s too long by half. Desire with its techno beats and the laid back Coming Up for Air also feel like they need a hard edit, and the fact that both tracks end in fadeouts further supports this argument.
With a nice guitar riff, solid drum line, and big sound on for the chorus, Hercules provides a brief moment of interest amongst songs that fail to engage the audience. The minimal arrangement on Hole in My Heart, the excellent drum rhythm of Just Can’t Help Myself, and the inclusion of funky guitars and warm horns on Butterflies demonstrate that Stansfield and her creative partners know what elements make for good, enjoyable music, yet that x-factor that takes something from being merely good in a technical sense to compelling listening is consistently missing on the album. Deeper really doesn’t put Stansfield best foot forward.