Claire Richards My Wildest Dreams – Album Review

My Wildest Dreams Quote

Quote from the liner notes inside the album.

For those of you who have read my blog for a while now you probably know that I have a huge passion for music. My passion for music is bigger than my passion for makeup. I am one of those people that always has music playing and has done ever since I was a young girl. I could talk about music and what it means to me all day long but to sum it up, music is my favourite thing in the world. Whenever I listen to it, I’m happy – even if I’m listening to sadder songs.

Each person has a genre or two they gravitate towards as well as certain bands and artists that are their favourites and they never tire of. Personally, I’m very much a pop girl! By pop I don’t always mean chart music and top 40 hits, I mean uptempo songs that make you feel happy and have catchy beats but still have reflective lyrics and a message, e.g. ABBA, Spice Girls and coincidentally the band Claire is from, Steps.

Steps are one of the most successful pop acts to come out of the 90s. To date they have had 14 consecutive top 5 singles in The UK (including two #1’s) and have sold over 20 million records worldwide. In 2011 Steps became the first British boy/girl band to have #1 albums in three consecutive decades (90s, 00s, 2010s). After the release of Tears On the Dancefloor in 2017 and touring the album, Claire decided to go full steam ahead with her own solo effort My Wildest Dreams.

My Wildest Dreams was released on February 1st 2019 and debuted at #9 on The UK albums chart. From start to finish the project took around three years between finding songs, writing songs and recording them. It wasn’t until the latter half of 2018 that Claire announced news of her solo album and began releasing her own music. Claire is known for her powerful vocals and has often been called the voice of Steps. Her musical influences include Karen Carpenter, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston and these influences are evident in Claire’s delivery and tone. Certain voices make you feel something and give you goosebumps and Claire’s is one of those. She is part of the reason I want to sing and a line from track two on the album sums it up beautifully, “I wanna live so my heart can learn to sing.”

Without further ado, let’s get into the review!

Hardcore Steps fans won’t be disappointed but if this is not completely like a Steps album. There are your standard uptempo pop songs that follow the pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, chorus in the form of On My Own, 7 Billion and Shame On You. These songs all have a great message behind them as well as being highlights that you’ll be singing to in no time!

One guarantee with a voice like Claire’s is that there will be big ballads, it’s a no brainer and she does them so well. Claire especially shines on Ruins and Don’t Leave Me In This Love Alone (written by Diane Warren). My favourite vocal run on the album comes from End Before We Start at the end of the second chorus. (Listen *HERE*).

Singles may not always be a listener’s favourite on an album and that is the case here. Title track, My Wildest Dreams is one of my personal highlights and it sums up the whole experience for Claire. She never expected she would get to make this album but she has been in the music business for over 20 years and has more than earned her stripes. There’s even a line in Brave (another of my favourites) which reflects this, “I’m a fighter, I’m a tiger”. Claire co-wrote Brave with her children in mind and it’s a gorgeous song full of raw emotion.

Albums also usually have tracks which grow on a listener the more they hear them, These Wings and Liar fall into this category for me. These Wings makes me want to sing along and have my diva moment and Liar showcases a beautiful depth to Claire’s voice. I find the lyrics poignant and relatable to a situation I was going through last year.

Overall, this is a beautiful album and one you can tell Claire is proud to call her own and has put her heart and soul into. The songs suit Claire’s muscality and she’s playing to her strengths. She has been true to herself whilst living her dream of recording a solo album. Each song has a story and I will be listening to this album and these stories for years to come. Standout Tracks: On My Own, 7 Billion, Brave, Shame On You, Ruins and My Wildest Dreams.

You can listen to Claire’s music on YouTube and Spotify. My Wildest Dreams is out now if you want to buy a copy!

This style of post is different to what I usually share but I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know what you think of the review!


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Album Review: Zayn – Mind of Mine

Album Review Zayn - Mind of Mine

Zayn - Mind of Mine     Zayn - Mind of Mine Tracklist

Friday, March 25th 2016; presses play and listens to ‘Mind of Mine’ on Spotify for the first time.

It’s a year to the day since Zayn Malik left One Direction and his debut solo album is unveiled upon the world. Let me start by saying I have always adored Zayn’s voice and I was intrigued to hear his sound and how his music comes across. I use the term come across loosely as I believe one of the most beautiful things about music is that each person can interpret a song and a lyric in a completely different way that makes sense to them. Over the past month I’ve watched and read interviews with Zayn where he’s discussed the album and one thing (pardon the pun Directioners), I’ve picked up on is Zayn’s genuine passion for the songs and the whole process of making this album. I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to listening to the album but lead single Pillowtalk is a good indication; sexy, honest and very much in the pop/R&B lane.

Zayn himself has described the album as, “weird, alternative R&B” stating, “it’s all sparse and random.” Each song has a different story to tell and while there is a mix of genres throughout Mind of Mine, the album still feels cohesive and works. A big part of that is down to production. The select number of producers alongside Zayn work together to achieve a collective sound, one complimenting the other. Zayn’s vocal ability is showcased and demonstrates diverse aspects of his voice. There are the typical R&B elements on tracks such as Drunk and Wrong (a duet with American singer-songwriter Kehlani), and more experimental elements on tracks such as Truth, Lucozade and the Intermission: Flower which is sung in Urdu.

If you’re a fan of Zayn’s poppier sound, you will not be disappointed. Zayn displays a bit of classic pop and has a One Direction-esque moment on Beatles inspired ballad Fool For You. His gorgeous falsetto features on a number of tracks including, It’s You, BeFour and She – further illustrating Zayn’s talents. Note: The “flashing lights” falsetto in the middle eight of BeFour is my favourite of the whole album!

If you’re looking to compare Zayn’s sound to another artist you will be hard-pressed to do so. While there are elements of Zayn’s influences throughout the album (Usher – Drunk, The Beatles – Fool For You, The Weeknd – TIO) it doesn’t sound like Zayn is trying to imitate those artists. The lyrics and thoughts are completely his. You can’t dispute the honesty in the lyrics and where they’re coming from.

It’s no secret that Mind of Mine is a rather sexual album with Zayn admitting himself that Pillowtalk is about sex. In my opinion this makes the album more endearing as Zayn writes about a topic we all want to hear about and know more about. It would be easy for these lyrics to come off as cheap and distasteful but something about Zayn’s voice and the way they’re worded make them beautiful. Zayn sings about getting to know someone, discovering what they’re really like and getting them to let their guard down in Borderz, “So take it off, let’s break down all of our walls. He also hints at being interested in more than looks in TIO, “Take off all your makeup baby take it off. A man who enjoys the no makeup look gets extra points in my book!

While Mind of Mine is a shift from Zayn’s former 1D days, he hasn’t lost his boyish charm and good looks that made teenage girls go crazy. I hold my hand up and admit I’ve never been a One Direction fan but the success the band has achieved is pretty amazing! I mentioned previously, Fool For You is the closest to a One Direction moment you will get on the album but the pop sensibilities of She are also not far off. You could suggest lyrically Rear View and Truth are about the band and perhaps the spelling of BeFour is a reference to the band’s album ‘Four’?

As you can probably tell from my glowing review, I am completely in love with this album! I have been listening to it non-stop for the past month and it will easily be one of my top albums for 2016. Again, I had no idea what I would think or if I’d even like Mind of Mine before listening to it but it really has surprised me. Discovering something left-field to what you normally listen to and ending up loving it is another thing I adore about music. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a similar age to Zayn but I feel like this album is right for me at this time of my life. While our lifestyle choices are worlds apart, the truthfulness and raw lyrics connect with me. A couple of years ago I might not have listened to Mind of Mine and appreciated it. Zayn has always had this mysterious persona surrounding him (though not created by him) and this album really sees him break down a few walls of his own and cement his place as a credible artist.

If I could describe the album in 5 words: sexy, honest, eclectic, captivating, beautiful.

Standout Tracks: Pillowtalk, BeFoUr, sHe, BoRdErZ, TIO and Like I Would.

Have you listened to Mind of Mine? What’s your favourite track? Also, be sure to let me know if you enjoyed my review!