The English diva’s first album way back in 2006 showcased her honey-sweetened warble, but was let down by bland arrangements. This follow-up was delayed (and partially inspired) by her husband’s accidental drug demise, and The Sea is flecked with deeper, moodier, and more dramatic songs.
Despite all this, a lumpy running order and less than emboldened performances means that she never quite achieves lift-off.
Those vocals – albeit fairly one-dimensional – are still an unmitigated pleasure, but neither the songs, nor the instrumental blend give this the sense of risk-taking it so desperately needs.
The sound, meanwhile, is as featherweight and neutered as the music; a clean, textureless, Pro-tools presentation. GARY STEEL