Boomkat Product Review:
Rox has been widely tipped for big things this year, scoring herself a heavy press presence and a slot on the BBC's influential Sound of 2010. The 21-year-old soul singer finally delivers her debut album after a steady, high profile build up, having recorded between London (with Jay-Z collaborator Al Shux) and New Jersey with Commissioner Gordon, whose work has contributed to albums like The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse's Frank. Sure enough, in production terms this is a superbly constructed slice of pop-soul gloss, and Rox's voice sounds rich beyond its years. The likes of 'No Going Back' and former single 'My Baby Left Me' waste no time in establishing themselves, and slow jams like 'Do As I Say' and 'Forever Always Wishing' deliver on all fronts, emerging with a writing pedigree that matches the level of polish. Cynics might identify Memoirs as the latest evolutionary stage in the revival of '60s-style soul as prompted by the success of albums like Winehouse's Back To Black and Duffy's Rockferry - the sort of thing that shares shelf space with Plan B's recently reinvented persona. Undoubtedly this is a very commercial album, and while that comes as something of a surprise given its Rough Trade provenance, it's worth bearing in mind that it was after all from the Rough Trade stable that the aforementioned Duffy rose to fame. There's abundant talent circulating on this record, and although the retro tone can occasionally be overstated (without being so bold as to venture into Sharon Jones territory) the weighty (and very loud) production style keeps the record sounding eminently contemporary. One or two of the ballads - particularly towards the end of the album - descend into borderline X Factor dirges ('Oh My' in particular feels a little limp) and although it's an acknowledgement of Rox's Jamaican roots, 'Rocksteady' runs into danger of sounding out of place as a slightly generic and tokenistic reggae entry, as compounded by its title. In fact, Creme Brulee's 'Jamaican Ginger Cake' springs to mind. Still, there's much to admire here, and as modern soul albums go, Memoirs is impressive, if slightly lacking on the 'modern' front.