After gaining worldwide attention during the 2012 season of X Factor UK, 16-year-old Ella Henderson rose to prominence due to her incredibly mature vocals, songwriting ability, and loveable personality. It is upon this supremely elevated platform that Henderson releases her debut album, Chapter One. Despite lofty expectations, it does not fail in the slightest.
Kicking off with hit single “Ghost,” the album comes right out of the gate with a series of catchy choruses, strong vocals, and complex instrumental arrangements, which are maintained throughout the entirety of the album. Perhaps its most uplifting song is “Rockets,” which has summer anthem written all over it. “The First Time” features gritty guitars with Henderson singing primarily in the lower end of her vocal register, resulting in a fascinating track that’s like nothing on the radio.
But it’s not all fun and games. Sprinkled amongst the more pop-oriented songs are slower, much more personal reflections. “Hard Work” sees Henderson confess that she’s ready to look past the troubles of a relationship in order to experience the good. Although touching at first, the sheer number of these piano-based tracks becomes tiring, eventually crossing over into skippable territory.
The biggest downfall to this album is, frankly, its lyrical content. Essentially every song consists of love-torn lyrics in some form or another, which does, unfortunately, wear thin at 13 tracks long—18 on the deluxe edition. But love sells, and Henderson isn’t the first artist to wear out the theme for a monotonous product.
Ultimately, Chapter One is a great debut album for an artist destined to sing universally applicable love songs. It’s not necessarily deep or groundbreaking, and there are too many ballads that slow down the album’s exciting motion, but as far as love albums go, Chapter One is a good piece of work from an artist that has yet to take a wrong step.