British singer/songwriter Ella Henderson has come a long way from performing on a celebrity Christmas special of the UK’s beloved series Come Dine With Me, in 2012 she successfully auditioned for series nine of the X Factor UK and finished in sixth place, much to the despair of those in favour of her to take out the crown (including celebrities like Adele, Lily Allen and Simon Cowell); not to worry though, Ella has something up her sleeve. It’s been two years coming, and since signing with Syco Entertainment’s subsidiary record label Syco Music, she has been collaborating with some of music’s biggest names to bring you her debut album, Chapter One.
Opening number and lead single Ghost caught international charts by storm, co-written with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder you can hear why this track is huge for Ella Henderson; it shows off her powerful vocal range and capabilities, its chorus is also catchy enough to stick with you for hours on end. Empire, even in its empowered environment of percussion and synths, gives Henderson the chance to sing with a vulnerability that makes you fall in love with the starlet’s voice all over again; second single Glow is introduced by fast paced yet subtle synths, Henderson’s explosive choruses are addictive and her hooks prove to have a lingering effect. Yours begins with a piano part that sounds almost similar to the chorus of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, but it is obvious that Ella makes this ballad her own when she sings her little heart out, this track would pass for an Adele track; Mirror Man is an intriguing number, the guitar’s riff is quite funky and Ella’s vocal delivery is edgy, it makes for an excitable upbeat number. Hard Work is a refreshingly laid back number, it’s easy to love the belty choruses that have been going on, but it’s nice to just chill with Ella’s softer side for a little while and let the guitar and her soothing voice do the work; Pieces brings back the punchy and atmospheric sound we’ve been hearing so far.
The First Time tells the story of an ex lover who gets together with a similar kind of girl, it has a pop meets soul kind of a feel to it in its instrumentation and the structure of the melody; All Again is a ballad that brings something different to the table, the verses sound like something out of a musical but the chorus brings it all home. Give Your Heart Away secures the power pop ballad a trademark of Ella, it sounds like the kind of track pop megastar P!nk would tackle; though the majority of the album would fall into the mainstream pop category, Rockets is written and delivered most in that direction with its boppy verses and intrinsically catchy chorus. The piano in Lay Down is played wonderfully, which creates a divine backdrop for Ella’s lush and most raw vocal part yet; Chapter One turns its pages to the last with the piano ballad Missed, one last hurrah for Ella’s beautiful tonal quality and knack for nailing those softer and more emotive numbers.
Chapter One is indeed an exciting instalment, consider X Factor and everything that came before as a prologue; Ella has truly broken away as an artist in her own right, the way in which she has delivered her work on this album is simply stunning and should be treasured by the fans who have stuck by her from her beginnings and potential new fans. Ella is making the world of singer/songwriters proud, it’s not often that finalists of a huge televised competition avoid releasing heavily commercialised and over-produced music; Chapter One is a collection of gems that will and should be cherished.