Sonna Rele – “Brand New Day”

Pop, R&B, UK Asian

Score: 6.1

The abiding image on Sonna Rele up until now has been her appearance at the “Save the BBC Asian Network” protest in early 2010 (which we followed with interest on Twitter). Amid the the inevitable propaganda, someone posted a YouTube video of the moment that the Asian artists were invited onstage to give a message of unity. Everyone dutifully towed the party line, until Sonna Rele forcibly grabbed the microphone and started singing (OTT Mariah Carey style) “Saaaaaaave the Aaaaaaaasiaaaaaan Netwooooooo-o-o-o-o-rk!” It was a bizarrely misjudged moment and, in that half a minute, you could see the look of bemusement throughout the crowd, yet the complete lack of embarrassment upon Sonna’s face. That says everything you need to know about her. Signed to a major label at 16, she now appears to have been moved on. A shame, but not entirely surprising: whilst Rele clearly fancies herself as the new Alicia Keys, the truth is that Columbia would never release a track where the artist sings with no idea of how to control melisma, going too far on a track that doesn’t even need it. She’s the show off who craves attention, and has a big voice but no idea how to use it properly. In fact, Sonna has a massive voice, not to mention looks, style and talent in abundance. She’s kind of like Cristiano Ronaldo when he first made his name at Manchester United – all fancy stepovers, flicks and tricks, but not enough end product. In itself, “Brand New Day” is a lovely, lilting number with pitch perfect instrumentation to give it the feel-good factor. However, the chorus is slightly patchy, and Rele’s refusal to tone it down harms what could have been an excellent track. It has to settle for merely “enjoyable” but it’s certainly a solid enough outing. The superior “Bring On The Rain” shows that she can reign it in when necessary, but in future, she just has to thoroughly restrain her vocals on songs more like BND. Success hinges on the smallest of details.

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