Leona Lewis used her big voice on big ballads like a battering ram to bust open America. Luckily, she didn't have to keep pounding, keep-keep pounding us. On "Echo" (J/SyCo), Lewis shows some subtlety and - gasp! - fun. "Love Letter" grooves like a Pink rocker. "Outta My Head" is up-tempo Europop, while her collaboration with Justin Timberlake, "Don't Let Me Down," reflects his recent Timbaland days. Yes, "Echo" is still too ballad-heavy, especially the droopy single "Happy," but, with Eastern tinges on "Brave" and the upper-register wails of "Breathe," she keeps it interesting.
THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE Finding life beyond big ballads
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