The third album from hugely popular Lucy Spraggan, following the independent release of Top Room at the Zoo in 2011, and the Columbia studio presented Join the Club in 2013, sees Spraggan release under her own label CTRL Records and an undeniable stamp of Spraggan's unique, authoritative voice.
Whilst Join the Club was full of potential and implicit with Spraggan's talent and skill for the song writing craft and authentic performance, it never achieved the success it deserved, despite coming out of a major studio.
This time Spraggan's going it alone, and there's something in the choice of name for her own label, CTRL - about seizing the ownership of creative choice, production, collaboration and marketing. And with a huge established fanbase of #Sprags (if the 340,000 Facebook fans, and 600,000+ Twitter followers are anything to go by) perhaps not just the brave decision, but the right one.
WE ARE features twelve new tracks written over the last three years following Spraggan's departure from The X Factor and kicks off with the lively 23, a song for the moment, about all of those things we learn at that edge of grown-upness. There's a quick momentum build that hangs as the song ends and a short pause that transitions into London Bound. A more energetic version than delivered in the November live shows, but nevertheless a treatise about the pressure and intensity of the Capital and the paradox of feeling like it's essential to be there to achieve the dream, whilst all the time it stifles the passion and creativity which are equally crucial.
The third track, the captivating, and electro-medolic Unsinkable (and first single to be released from the album, co-written with Adam Argyle and Martin Brammer) is a very well played hand indeed (although there are still several trump cards up this album's sleeve) and cleverly states the progress and evolution of Spraggan's song-writing mastery as well as her vocal development. It's a powerful anthem with plenty of well used reference to musical influence and sets down that Spraggan means business, triumphantly.
In this Church is a particular highlight, picking up the pace again and a return to the authoritative A-FLOP style Spraggan is renowned for, with intelligent lyrics playing on the theme, and a powerful message of equality.
Reminiscent of the strengths of Tea and Toast are The Postman and Until I've lived my life - epic folky tales of love and death through the decades, proper tear jerkers, both with a sense of heroism coming out of wartime days past.
However, there is also a heavy contemporaneous feel, with tracks such as Broken Bones and IOU (penned with Boy George and Jonny Themis) referencing the delights and perils of the entrenchment of social media in our lives. Both have more of a pop feel about them, and IOU especially is packed full of a sense of humour and the blend of folk and reggae provides an interesting take on modern dating. It's been hinted this may be based on real experiences...
The mood shifts again with the ballad Coming Down, one of the standout tracks. Beautiful lyrics complemented perfectly with guitar and strings, adding deserved gravitas, and introducing the piano sounds that dominate the last quarter of the album.
The ace up the sleeve is Uninspired, a sorrow-filled, biting critique of the isolating TV talent show experience...thankfully finding resolution through a connection with the fans, called "friends" and showcasing Spraggan's vocals to their highest form as well as her ability to craft exceptional songs.
A nationwide tour follows later in May, including the 22 May 2015 at Heaven in London, with some dates already selling out. Tickets are available via https://www.kililive.com/artists/lucy-spraggan
WE ARE will be released on 4 May 2015. You can buy the first single Unsinkable from Itunes now. Catch Lucy on BBC Radio Two's Weekend Wogan Show alongside legend Melissa Etheridge on Sunday 26 April 2015.
A little teaser of the album here: