Upon breaking free from something restrictive or limiting, it’s natural to feel triumphant. This seems to be a situation Leona Lewis was well versed in, especially after leaving her label of seven years, Syco Music, back in 2014. Leona’s triumph, motivation and self-empowerment are all at the heart of I Am, and while it’s not a gut-wrenching or revolutionary piece of work, it’s definitely entertaining.
If you’ve heard the singles for I Am, you partially know what to expect. The album follows the pounding mid-tempo style of Thunder more than the frantic gospel-influenced pop anthem Fire Under My Feet, but there’s a decent split between piano mid-tempos and pop tracks. The sheen and the synths of her Glassheart and Echo days are mostly stripped away, but the style isn’t anything majorly new for Leona.
Because of this, I Am acts as a collection of the styles she does best. Another Love Song adopts a garage-style beat and bright looping synth melody, acting as the album’s only dance track, and throws back to the Glassheart style in an improved way. Ladders is a bouncy piano-pop song with bubbly synth blips and fuzzy-sounding scales that has a sense of happiness and light that feels separate from the triumph of the rest of the album, uplifting without being overly dramatic. Meanwhile, Power throws back to the power balladry of Bleeding Love and My Hands for original Leona Lewis fans. They’re all reminiscent of some past era of Leona’s career, but they’re all enjoyable on this new clean slate as well.
I Am may be a strong album, but the consistency with her previous albums means it’s just too predictable. There are no unenjoyable tracks, but they rarely match the energetic and refreshing feeling that Fire Under My Feet had when it debuted as a single. It’s a great listen with some rousing stand-out tracks, but there’s no denying that it’s a standard fare pop album with Leona’s twist on it.