With an apparent crisis of confidence in the club sound Leona Lewis courted with last single Collide, Leona and her team have decided to take her back to safer territory with the new EP Hurt while they figure out how to retool the upcoming 2012 album.
Consisting of 3 distinctly sombre, mid-tempo songs- which is odd considering the festive time of year- Leona decided to showcase the title track, and Nine Inch Nails (NIN) cover, at this year's Royal Variety show.
What is immediately clear on listening to the album version of Hurt is how low Leona pushes her voice to mirror the Reznor melody, hitting an unhealthy sounding C3 at 1.23 on the word "end". I was really interested to see if she could accomplish this feat live, considering how forced it sounded on the recording, but always the masterful vocalist Leona managed it, though with noticeably less strength and volume.
Whereas the lower notes sounded uncomfortable the top notes were the total opposite. Its always a joy to hear Leona belting, and this performance was no exception- look out for the effortlessly sustained D5 at 3.19. Bright, well placed and expertly controlled, it lifted the performance brilliantly, showing why Leona Lewis is still one of the best contemporary voices Britain, and the X-Factor, has produced
On a note about the cover itself, though it doesn't have the emotion of the original NIN version, being more of a vocal performance than an emotive one, I actually prefer Leona's more contrived version- lets be honest this has been given the Run treatment. However, it doesn't come anywhere near the standard set by the late Johnny Cash cover. That has got to be one of the most powerful songs period. Listen to both versions below.
Original Nine Inch Nails Version:
Johnny Cash version: