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Released: 15th September 2017.

Anastacia - Evolution'Evolution' or 'Heavy Rotation' 2.0?

Anastacia's new album may be called 'Evolution,' but, sadly, in many ways, it feels like a regression to former disappointments.

For years, the leather-lunged diva has promised a follow-up LP in the style of her third album. On this self-titled record, Anastacia took a different direction and explored an edgier sound which she described as 'sprock', a hybrid of soul, pop and rock. The album achieved multi-platinum sales, some of the strongest reviews of her career, and contained the fan favourites "Left Outside Alone" and "Sick and Tired". However, her next album, 'Heavy Rotation' reverted to the straightforward pop of her earlier work and arguably killed her career.

In the build-up to this new album, Anastacia once again promised sprock; however, her sound fits in more with current music and her first two albums, as opposed to the edgy pop fans had hoped for.

The lead single, ''Caught In The Middle," may have a fun, bouncy intro, but it's let down by a rushed second verse, simplistic lyrics and a monotonous chorus. The bridge is also underwhelming as it lacks Anastacia's trademark soaring vocals. In fact, 'Evolution' overall has an insufficient supply of the powerful belting that helped Anastacia become a star. As a result, many uptempo numbers such as "Reckless," ''Boxer,'' and ''Nobody Loves Me Better'' miss out on a potentially exciting climax that would have elevated the songs from average pop fodder to solid tracks.

The positives of this album come from the slower songs. ''My Everything" shows off a silky, vulnerable side to the singer's voice in an offering that is one of Anastacia's strongest ballads in years. ''Why'' also displays a softer vocal that works based on the strength of the straightforward lyrics and build to a soulful finish. ''Stamina'' is reminiscent of Emeli Sande's ''Next to Me,'' while ''Pain'' supplies a darker tone to the album that is solidified by a strong vocal in the chorus.

A standout track on the album would be ''Before,'' which references the emotional weaknesses that Anastacia displayed on her previous album, 'Resurrection,' after recovering from her second bout with breast cancer. The track is confident, empowering, and a welcome antidote to the final two tracks on the record, which, sadly, feel like weak B-sides.

Overall, this album will probably not gain Anastacia any new fans, and it may even frustrate some of her most loyal listeners. That being said, when compared to the music of 2017, it does rate much higher. However, compared to Anastacia's previous efforts, and what she is still capable of, this album is merely passable and average at best.

* * * (Freakydeaky23)

This release is available for download only.

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