ELLIE GOULDING, Brixton Academy – Evening Standard, 13 Dec 2012

Just when the hot tips for 2013 are being named in the media, Ellie Goulding has returned to show the next big things what awaits them. The Hereford dance-pop singer topped a BBC poll and won the Brits Critics’ Choice award in 2010, going on to produce a number one debut album that slowly became a hit in America too.

Now that she’s making her comeback with a second album, Halcyon, her image is somewhat confused. In Britain, she’s the cosy charmer who sang on a John Lewis advert and at William and Kate’s wedding. In the US, she’s the dance diva who dated dubstep bad boy Skrillex. Here she pummelled a drum, played her own voice with a sampler, and strutted confidently in towering black heels and little else.

Unimpeachably polite between songs, her newer material had more teeth. Figure 8 saw her playing air guitar to a roaring solo. The piano march of Anything Could Happen made it stand out as the big hit, older songs such as Salt Skin and Under the Sheets feeling wispy and lightweight in comparison.

Although at times it was hard to tell what was a backing track and what was live, there was more room for her fluttering voice on the beautiful Active Child cover, Hanging On, and a solo Guns and Horses. I Know You Care, a minimal piano ballad about her absent father, reached a depth that the party tunes could not. She should be tipped for great things next year too.

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