We have to admit we’re rather fond of Leona Lewis’ change of direction. Having split from her childhood sweetheart, the former X Factor winner has also distanced herself from Mr Cowell and released a new, edgier sounding album that spans influences from Kate Bush to Tracy Chapman.
So what prompted the transformation? Leona explains to Stylist that, although life is going swimmingly now, many of the songs on her third album Glass Heart were inspired by recent hard times. “It has a darker tone to it. It’s got a lot of depth and different styles on there,” she admitted.
Of course, she hasn’t completely left behind the guilty-pleasure power ballads that helped her break the States, but her new style of music has already spawned one club hit, Collide – the first dancefloor-filling anthem from an X Factor winner. And just wait until you hear her incredible voice tackle the trip hop-influenced Trouble and the Coldplay-esque Fireflies.
"I don't really like to see people dancing around a pole or gyrating on a guy every time I go to a concert."
There’s a sophisticated new look to go with it too – on her new album cover, shot by acclaimed fashion photographer Guy Aroch, dark locks and scarlet lips replace her previous honeyed highlights. To match her fashion update, Leona has developed a more mature approach to getting her music noticed too. “Personally, I think some people go too far,” she told us. “I don’t really like to see people dancing around a pole or gyrating on a guy every time I go to a concert.”
So has Leona transformed into something never seen before – a 26-year-old successful pop star with feminist leanings, ensuring her album sales don’t rely on her sex appeal alone? “I just don’t think there is any need for it,” she says. “I’d rather be something positive, especially to young girls. There’s a way to be sexy that’s not too in your face. That’s not something I want to represent, and I find it all a bit insulting as a woman.”
Collide by Leona Lewis & Avicii is out 4 September. Her album Glass Heart is out 28 November.
Picture credits: Rex Features