By Rosie Duffield
Nicola Roberts has had a hard time in the spotlight. Not originally chosen to be part of Girls Aloud, she suffered much public and media criticism – not only because of that, but because she was a shy, awkward teenager who let the other girls take charge in interviews. Oh – and she’s ginger.
So when our favourite reality TV girl band decided to take a break, it was Roberts who decided to take a step back for a year or two, gradually emerging to launch a make up range (for pale skinned girls, naturally) and reinventing herself as a style icon (according to the women’s weeklies), before announcing her plans for a solo album.
Cinderella’s Eyes isn’t a bad effort, all things considered. The lyrics are often witty, at times laced with sarcasm; the album certainly brings out Roberts’s character as well as highlighting her fragility.
‘I’, for example, sees her list a number of things she’s worried about, doesn’t like or is scared of – with nods to the media and online critics: “I’m scared to be some two-faced person’s little stepping stone/ I don’t like the people that leave comments on the internet/ They preach they’re perfect while they’re killing you with intellect” .
‘Sticks And Stones’ is a haunting lament on bullying; whilst ‘Porcelain Heart’ – although disguised by heavy beats – is a track about having her heart broken. Debut single ‘Beat Of My Drum’ surprised many with it’s electro direction, but proved a solid start to Roberts’s solo career, and the album continues on in a similar vein, with ‘Say It Loud’ and ‘Gladiator’ catchy slices of driving pop.
The problem I have with Cinderella’s Eyes is that Nicola Roberts doesn’t have the strongest voice. She also doesn’t seem to sing that much on the tracks – and when she does it seems like a struggle for her, some of her high notes are more like screeches or wails rather than anything tuneful. That aside (ahem), the album proves that Nicola does in fact have a personality, and, as an added bonus, has a sense of humour.
If Nicola Roberts wanted to prove herself to the world, she’s made a good start. The songs on Cinderella’s Eyes open the doors to her world; the shy girl giving way to someone whose confidence has obviously grown over the last few years. But musically there’s still some work to be done – at any rate it’s nice to see her taking the limelight for a change, instead of shrinking into the background.