A fan-pleaser that won't set the world alight
Adam England
11:31 12th July 2022

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It’s been eight years since Christina Perri’s last studio album, head or heart, and a lot has changed since then. Perri hasn’t turned away from music entirely during this time – she’s released two albums of lullabies in 2019 and 2021, for her eldest child, Carmella, and a stillborn daughter, Rosie, respectively.

So this is Perri’s first album since her early-2010s heyday, during which she found a winning formula of pop-rock power ballads. It worked, and its one that she’s returned to on Lighter Shade of Blue. 

In places, it’s reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo. Opener ‘Surrender’ sounds somewhat like ‘Drivers License’, nailing the power-balled-with-a-rousing-emotional-chorus formula, while single ‘Evergone’ is also Rodrigo-esque. The track is an exploration of Perri’s grief following the loss of her stillborn daughter Rosie in 2020, and the raw emotion is clear – Perri herself explained that writing the track helped her to heal.

There’s nothing here at the level of ‘Jar of Hearts’ or ‘A Thousand Years’. While they’re of course soundtracks to the late-2000s and early-2010s Tumblr era, it can feel as if, in the eight years since her last studio album, Perri has been somewhat left behind by the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Olivia Rodrigo and of course Taylor Swift – as a result, the formula begins to look ever-so-slightly dated.

There’s quality here, but it’s not consistent. ‘Fever’ is a standout track, utilising Perri’s impressive voice: “No-one knows and nobody can see/You’re like a fever in me/Burning, burning, burning in me”, she sings over her trademark piano. It’s followed by the sombre ‘Blue’, which while it has heart never really gets going, but next up is ‘I Do It For You’, which is full of emotion and feeling definitely another highlight,

Compared to many of the tracks here, ‘Home’ is positively uplifting, with dreamy backing vocals. There are shades of Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dream’ here, while penultimate track ‘Time Of Our Lives’ is also a lot more uplifting than the other tracks that came before it. 

Overall, this album strikes a largely melancholic tone. It’s not that this is new territory for Perri, of course – her signature song is a piano ballad in C minor about her refusing to reconnect with an old boyfriend – but across 14 songs and 48 minutes, it’s a lot. However, there are tender, touching moments here, and while it’s not an album that’ll set the world alight, it’s sure to please Perri’s fans. 

A Lighter Shade of Blue arrives 15 July via Elektra Records LLC.

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Photo: Press