Gabriella Cilmi - Lessons To Be Learned (Island)

David Spencer | Sunday, 30 November 2008

Gabriella Cilmi - Lessons To Be Learned (Island)

It’s hard to imagine how you might not have heard Gabriella Cilmi’s 'Sweet About Me' in 2008 - the catchy but slightly irritating single that helped this young Aussie gain attention. It featured in a TV advert and is one of the most played songs on radio this year. But if you expected that to give you a preview of what her debut album might sound like, you would be wrong.

Lessons To Be Learned was first released in the spring and has been re-issued ahead of Christmas, with a few extra tracks. So let’s focus on the newer tracks first. They include one festive song - you can expect to hear 'Warm This Winter' on a TV commercial very soon. It will also be issued as a download single in December. The cover of the Connie Francis track is efficient enough, but it doesn’t really feel very festive. Maybe that’s because Australians are more used to a barbeque at Christmas than snow!

Also included as an extra track is a cover of Justin Timberlake’s 'Cry Me A River', which is far more interesting. It could have ended up like an X Factor contestant's rendition, but her slightly stripped-down version achieves in giving the song a fresh feel.

As if to underline how 'Sweet About Me' dominates this album, the song appears twice. Firstly in its normal shape, then again later as slowed down acoustic number.

For those that want to know a bit more about the album, second single 'Save The Lies' would have warned them not to expect 15 or 16 Sweet About Mes. The Anastacia-sounding track is less immediate but shows the power pop side of delivery this Aussie teenager is capable of.

Other highlights on the album include 'Sit In The Blues', which allows Cilmi to display her strong vocals in a smokey bluesy style. 'Awkward Game' and 'Einstein' slow the pace mid album to good effect, but throughout there’s too much gloss and the vocal begins to irritate. 'Echo Beach' ended up being the theme to a TV show that disappeared very quickly; the same should happen to her cover of the classic song.

Gabriella Cilmi has only just turned 17, so there is plenty of time for her to work on getting decent material together. Support slots for the likes of the Sugababes mean she’s playing to the right audience and is slowly building a following that might soon compare to that she has back home in Melbourne.

Rating: 2/5