Fans of The Masked Singer on ITV have already been exposed to a sneak preview of Gabrielle’s new album Do It Again. It consists of five covers she performed on the hit TV show, as well as five other covers and two originals. The great choices of covers stretch across different eras and genres, ranging from Gabrielle laying down takes of old-school standards to her delving into the modern pop world.
Gabrielle was one of the great voices of the 90’s pop scene and for pop lovers, she represents an era when everything seemed simpler. Her new album Do It Again depicts an artist who still possesses an amazing voice but who, rather than being artistically stuck in her 90s pop stardom persona, has moved on musically as her life has done so. Nonetheless, the album does have some great 90s vibes without trying to exhume the music of the past. The album’s first track, Killing Me Softly, is a great example of this as Gabrielle opts to perform the much-loved classic in the same vein as The Fugees’ 1996 version with a heavy beat that really cuts through and even overwhelms the warpy synth and coy vocals that introduce the song.
The percussion remains prominent throughout the album, with super heavy snare sounds dominating tracks such as the soul standard Bring It On Home to Me, originally by the late great Sam Cooke and the oh-so-80s Teardrops by Womack & Womack. Indeed, the production on the whole album is top class, generating such a clean sound that the mixes seem far back in the stereo field without being distant, helped by the heavy modulation placed on the guitars and synths. The production furthermore does well to showcase what an outstanding voice Gabrielle has, which has a real body to it. It makes sense then that she has followed in the footsteps of fellow powerhouse Tina Turner by covering Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary. This is a brave feat, given that Tina Turner is often credited as one of the top female vocalists of all time, but it is obvious Gabrielle is not trying to outdo anyone and instead just has fun with her own version, keeping her vocals cool and relaxed.
The first Gabrielle original Stop Right Now features great swaying pop vocals, although the build up to the chorus promises vocals possessing more energy than is actually heard, and the beat this time feels too fast and ‘happy’ when put with her vocals and the synths, but the song does pick up nicely towards the end. The intro of the other original Can’t Hurry Love lacks a sense of fluidity and this chilled chaos persists throughout the song, but the track builds on you with nice melodies and the disjointed feeling in fact endears you to the song.
There are many reasons for liking Do It Again by Gabrielle. The great catalogue of covers that also includes the legendary Fast Car, the awesome Diamonds by Rihanna, the lovely Smile and I’ll Be There from days of old and even numbers by Harry Styles and Billie Eilish, is one. The superb production is another. And most obvious of all, the sheer brilliance of Gabrielle’s vocals. It is inevitable renditions of these chosen songs will be lacking something untouchable heard in the transcendent originals, such as Gabrielle’s version of Diamonds, whereby her voice is powerful enough to match Rihanna’s, but the cover will never match the unexplainable emotion and drama heard in Rihanna’s performance. Nor can any version of Bring It On Home To Me, in my opinion, surpass that which saw two greats combine, in Van Morrison and Jeff Beck’s version. Nevertheless, Gabrielle and her team do a fantastic job of paying homage to the artists without merely copying them, making Do It Again a definite worthwhile listen.