Buxton-born singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan has already tried her luck going it alone, before participating in the 2012 edition of The X Factor UK. Despite coming ninth, she has landed a record label deal and her 2013 debut Join The Club made the UK Top Ten. The song titles on her major label sophomore effort and third album overall We Are give listeners a glimpse into the general theme of the album: a recollection on life and the future. Spraggan reassures listeners that it’s OK not to know what the future holds on percussive opener 01 23. This track revels in youthful, blissful innocence and a reflective wisdom as she manages to make a rhyme out of ‘winds and bends’ and ‘misplaced friends’. It succeeds thanks to its irreverence and hooky ‘whoa oh’s.’
The acoustic folk-pop of London Bound has more of that abandon as Spraggan recalls her journey in her charming accent, though its numerous ‘oh oh ohs’ shows that a track can be too annoyingly catchy. Broken Bones, a comical, swinging song about someone who works nights but starts fights on the dance floor has Spraggan’s accent allowing ‘mental’ to cleverly half-rhyme with ‘vodka and red bull’.
The chasing-paced, mischievous In This Church is followed up with the folksy, vibrant The Postman. This combines pen-scrawling and thunder sound effects with Spraggan’s sense of earnest reminds listeners of what old-fashioned communication used to be like.
I Don’t Know may capture the pleasantry, smell and warmth of Sunday morning coffee but doesn’t really go anywhere. Uninspired’s piano and orchestra-driven backing doesn’t sound like something new and the closer 12 Paper Cuts leaves things unsatisfying unresolved.
Nevertheless, the pub-appropriate I.O.U unexpectedly canvasses multiple genres from frenzied folk-pop to laidback reggae in seconds, keeping listeners on their toes. Coming Down is a gripping, forlorn ballad with a sugary melody in the choruses supported by subtle, ghostly vocal harmonies that add eeriness to the proceedings.
Unsinkable clearly stands out as the single on this album, as its solemn, stop-start piano progression convinces listeners of being underwater and being ‘dragged down by an anchor’. Despite its downtrodden nature, it manages to be soulful and rousing in its ‘I won’t stop’ lyric and uplifting choir in the post-choruses that show Spraggan’s drive to survive.
Lucy Spraggan’s second album as a major label recording artist shows off her obvious verve and talent, but could have done with a little less filer.