POCKETFUL OF SUNSHINE
On the perky meter, U.K. pop sensation Natasha Bedingfield lands somewhere between a prom queen and fitness guru Richard Simmons. Her songs sparkle with the hope of a brand-new day, evidenced by the 2006 hit single "Unwritten."
Her latest, "Pocketful of Sunshine," is a packaging of new and previously released songs from last year's British release "N.B." (six tracks made the jump: "Soulmate," "Pirate Bones," "Not Givin' Up," "Who Knows," "Say It Again" and "Backyard"). On "Pocketful," Bedingfield stretches beyond the Pink and Christina Aguilera comparisons. Many songs follow in the hand-holding, supportive vibe of "Unwritten" -- "Soulmate" being voted Most Likely to Exceed "Unwritten's" Expectations.
She tries out a few templates; the most successful is the mid-tempo, contemporary ballad (especially on "Put Your Arms Around Me" and the title track) that recalls the output of numerous "American Idol" runners-up. So when she goes for pop-soul diva status with stuttering synth blasts (a la Timbaland/Timberlake's "My Love") on "Piece of Your Heart" or the high school crush single "Love Like This" (with Sean Kingston), the songs feel like disparate jigsaw pieces in search of a puzzle. There's only a limited amount of time one can spend in her company before planning an exit strategy.
-- Todd Inoue
DOWNLOAD THESE:"Soulmate," "Put Your Arms Around Me"