Released: 31st July 2000.
Louise returns from the musical wilderness with a new album. While "Elbow Beach" definitely has similarities with her earlier work it has a more mature sound, both musically and lyrically. While Louise's pop music roots are still clearly apparent, they have been mixed with soul to give a more rich and satisfying sound.
The album is very obviously for and about Jamie Redknapp. Where fans may have expected sugary ballads and perhaps the occasional raunchy number like "Naked" the truth is that "Elbow Beach" has more adult themes, probably due to the fact that it is based on Louise's life. This time the sexy songs are more frank and, well, sexual.
While "Naked" was a knowing nod and wink towards sexuality, songs like "For Your Eyes Only" are more like carefully labelled and coloured diagrams with lyrics like "there's a mirror on the wall, let's do it all". Without hearing them in context these lyrics might sound childish or out of place, but when integrated with the smooth music and soul sensibilities of the album the whole package comes across as a mature and even sultry album.
A stand out track is "The Best Thing" which steals themes from Shania Twain's "Man I Feel Like A Woman" and Meridith Brook's "Bitch" but manages to not simply come across as another 'tough girl' song. The album as a whole feels like Louise has really grown up in the time she was away, the songs are still obviously Louise, but with none of the sugary pseudo-sentiment which permeated "Naked" and "Woman In Me".
"Elbow Beach" presents us with a more grown up Louise, singing her own songs. The transformation from pop princess to slinky singer songwriter isn't easy to pull off, but Louise has managed it. The songs sound better because this time they're about real things which matter to her. This makes the album sound heart-felt, and turns Louise from a good artist to a great one.