Already a massive star in her native Australia, Delta Goodrem’s Delta marks the singer’s first bid for success in the U.S. With its high-gloss studio production from a host of producers, including John Shanks, Stuart Crichton and Marius De Vries, and its memorable melodic and lyrical hooks, Goodrem’s debut may not replicate the same degree of superstardom she has enjoyed at home, but it could make her a mainstay on Adult Top 40 playlists throughout the next year. While the album’s conventional production doesn’t really do Goodrem any favors in terms of establishing an identity, she has a more distinctive, more versatile voice than many of her fellow VH1 “You Oughta Know” artists like Sara Bareilles, Anna Nalick or Colbie Caillat. The way Goodrem is willing to vary both her tone and phrasing over the course of a single song (most notable on “Born to Try,” which also showcases the breadth of her range) actually recalls a less nasal version of Shakira’s vocal style more so than that of the current crop of female singer-songwriters. More significant, though, is the fact that Goodrem’s lyrical style conveys a definite point of view. Specifically, what seems on the surface like a preoccupation with body image is given a sense of weight by its source: Goodrem might have made her U.S. breakthrough some five years ago if not for a successful battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So her use of images of the human form on songs like “Possessionless” and lead single “In This Life” reflects Goodrem’s very real struggles and, as a result, gives the songs a perspective that occasionally allows them to overcome some of their more clichéd tendencies. While Delta makes for a pleasant enough debut, Goodrem should look for collaborators who are more willing to take advantage of her distinctive voice, both as a writer and singer, if she hopes to have a more lasting presence stateside than fellow Neighbours alumna Natalie Imbruglia.
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