Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s new album Familia is her 6th studio album release. It is produced by singer-song writer Ed Harcourt who also worked on her previous well received album Wanderlust. He has also written for the likes of Paloma Faith, Jamie Callum and Lize Marie Presley. Ellis-Bextor drew inspiration for Familia from Latin America as evident in the vibrant album artwork.
From track one Wild Forever, you just know it’s is going to be a feel good album. The electro disco party begins with a synth ostinato running through the track brimming with nervous excitement. Ellis-Bextor uses endearing imagery in her lyrics as in the track Death Of Love in which she sings “This is not the death of love…every sunrise leads to a sunset”. The energy is brought down in Crystallise; the melody and sweeping instrumentation draw you in. The Latin American influence on the music is apparent in Hush Little Voices. Come With Us is the first single to be lifted off Familia, and is a a fun disco-pop track, something we expect from Ellis-Bextor and a style in which she excels. My Puppet Heart features interesting vocal play in the way of decorative melodies and harmony sections. This song has more of a rock influence. The ballad Unrequited includes a driving folk feel with string orchestration supporting the emotion that comes across in Ellis-Bextor’s vocal delivery. Don’t Shy Away has a somewhat Western feeling about it; you could imagine a cowboy riding yonder into the sunset with this track in the background while she repeats “Won’t look back again”.
Familia is a successful new release by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. In it, she showcases her skill in writing music in a variety of styles, while showing restraint in the balance of instrumentation (using acoustic, electronic and more traditional timbres). The Latin American influence on the music is evident without becoming a caricature, which can happen if the music is not well crafted by a meticulous musician. Throughout the album Ellis-Bextor displays her versatility as a singer, her distinctive voice delivers the lyrical content meaningfully and with purpose. Familia is a highly enjoyable album!