Lemar Obika finished third on ‘Fame Academy’, the BBC’s attempt to emulate the reality music TV competitions that ITV were having success with at the time, in 2002. Despite not winning the series, the singer-songwriter signed a record deal with Sony imprint RCA and following the release of his debut album ‘Dedicated’ in 2003, he established himself as one of the UK’s most successful male stars. It’s been 8 years since Lemar’s last album, a covers project called ‘The Letter’, and 11 years since his last album of original material, ‘Invincible’. As ‘Dedicated’ celebrates its 20th anniversary, Lemar is back with his seventh studio album ‘Page in My Heart’.
‘Page in My Heart’ is an album that Lemar has been working on for several years (read our interview with him to find out more about the record). The 10-track set is, for the most part, an up-tempo collection that draws inspiration from the 70s and 80s, as well as contemporary R&B and Pop. Lead single ‘Future Love’ sees Lemar channelling Luther Vandross for a beat-heavy uptempo song that showcases his knack for a melody as well as that silky smooth voice that has made him one of our biggest stars. It’s a nice nod to the sound that we first heard on ‘Dedicated’ and it’s Lemar operating in his sweet spot.
Opening with the title track, ‘Page in My Heart’ gets off to a strong start. Stark beats provide the perfect backing for Lemar’s distinctive tone as he sings about struggling to move on from a relationship that has broken down. It’s an emotional gut punch that paves the way for a record that explores a variety of feelings and personal experiences. The pace picks up with the Bee Gees-like ‘Glorious!’, which features vocals from singer-songwriter Jessica Agombar. Lemar sings mostly in a falsetto with vocal effects coming in on the chorus and Agombar delivering feisty retorts.
The album is anchored by two ballads. The first, ‘Take Care’, sits in the middle of the record offering a reprieve from the beats and uptempo vibes that dominate the four songs that come before. The piano-led track is one of the best vocal moments on the record with Lemar’s voice emoting with conviction as he sings of his regret at not handling a relationship the way he wishes he had. The album’s other ballad, closing track ‘Where Do We Get Off?’, is a meditation on taking time to step back and give a relationship the attention it needs. Again, Lemar’s vocals are stellar and it’s one of the finest moments on the record.
Elsewhere on the record ‘Free Your Mind’ is a proper dancefloor throwback moment, ‘Turn My Love’ leans almost into reggaeton for a punchy R&B/pop number, and ‘I Been’ builds with an urgency that transforms the song into a huge anthem. One of the highlights on the second half of the record is the carefree ‘The Weekend’, which has such an easy feel-good groove that you can’t help but sing along.
‘Page in My Heart’ is a welcome return to music for Lemar. While he may have been busy behind-the-scenes and exploring other opportunities, it’s as a performer that he truly excels. This record doesn’t outstay its welcome and there’s zero filler among the 10 tracks, which quite honestly is a rarity these days. Despite being written over a number of years, the record is cohesive and these songs feel like they were meant to co-exist together, with the album’s sequencing spot on. If ever we needed a reminder why Lemar is one of our finest artists, this album showcases it perfectly.
Track list: 1. Page in My Heart 2. Glorious! 3. Future Love 4. Dust 5. Take Care 6. Free Your Mind 7. Turn My Love 8. I Been 9. The Weekend 10. Where Do We Get Off? Record label: AMP Release date: 24th March 2023 Buy ‘Page in My Heart’ now
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