Rita Ora fast became a household name after her 2012 debút album ‘Ora’ was released. But that may not have been for the reasons she wanted. She’s had public breakups and numerous fall outs with other celebrities, as well as turning her hand to acting in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise and reality television judging on The Voice and X Factor. Six years on from her last full-length release comes ‘Phoenix’. Ora is here to put the record straight and make sure her music career is taken seriously.
You may find yourself listening to this record thinking “I’ve heard this before”. No, you’re not going crazy. In fact, nearly half of the track-list has already been circulating the airwaves for the past year. Summer anthem ‘Anywhere’ reached No.2 in the UK charts following its release in October 2017. ‘Let You Love Me’ became the album’s fourth single, bursting with satisfying pop that invites a range of remixes. ‘Girls’ also made the cut, despite the backlash it received from the LGBT+ community over its shoddy representation of bisexuality.
But knowing half the songs already certainly isn’t a bad thing, instead it allows the remaining songs to shine through. ‘New Look’ is a definite hidden gem and it’s very surprising this it wasn’t chosen to be a single. It has everything there to make it a chart hit, it’s ridiculously catchy and showcases Ora’s great vocals. ‘Keep Talking’ featuring Julia Michaels is another stunner. It is by far the best example of Ora’s vocal talent we’ve seen on the album.
Ora has had her fair share of collaborations. ‘Summer Love’ features Rudimental and combines vocals with up-tempo drum and bass breakdowns to maintain interest (even if they are a little untamed at times). One of Avicii’s final songs ‘Lonely Tonight’ claims it’s place on ‘Phoenix’. It is a triumphant celebration of his work and would be a cheerful hit if it wasn’t so poignant.
But, as with any album, there are the sub-par filler tracks. ‘Hell Of A Life’ is a stereotypical example that seems to have had its purpose decided long before it was recorded. The safe and predictable lyrics matched with uneventful electric backing music fails to impress. This continues with ‘Falling To Pieces’, although this time with the strange addition of trumpets thrown in. More effort has been taken with the lyrics but they’re sadly not enough to save the song from being skipped.
Final song ‘Soul Survivor’ tells the story of Ora’s publicity struggles, confirming that this album’s purpose it to show her determination and music abilities. The lyrics are a slap in the face for all that were unbelieving: “Damn frustrating that you think I could never make it, look who’s standing right in front of you”. It is a heartfelt track that reflects its writing process, becoming a solid highlight on the record. Ora has saved the best until last, it’s just a shame you have to sift through the rest to get to it.