The Sweet Escape is the second solo effort by the pop-rock singer Gwen Stefani. Released in December 2006, it is the follow-up album to the enormously successful 2004 release Love.Angel.Music.Baby. that sold 3.7 million copies.
How do you follow up that kind of success with a second effort? Chances are you don’t! What one needs to do is create a good solid album. Something that you want to make – The Sweet Escape is this kind of album.
Originally Stefani did not want to do another solo effort. In fact, she has been working out with No Doubt but she had some tracks leftover from the L.A.M.B. sessions that she wanted to release. She took the tracks, which include "Wonderful Life" and created a different style of CD then her last one.
There will be many who feel that she is moving too far off the road that created her success, but sometimes the lack of change is what keeps an artist from being who they are and becoming something that their fans think that they should be. It is easy for a follow up to be nothing more than a rehash of the same material that created the previous success, The Sweet Escape is not a redux.
The down side with creating a fresh start is that you will have many fans who will want to downgrade the performances and down grade the album. To give this album its do, one has to come to it on its own merits and not strictly compare it to L.A.M.B.
Does The Sweet Escape stand on its own? I think that it does. On the first track, “Wind it Up,” she yodels to The Sound of Music tune “The Lonely Goatherd” –which by the way is a strange little ditty that I really like. It is part excitement, part clunky and really addictive. It harks back the L.A.M.B. album but is still different.
“Early Winter” is a driving ballad that is a bit dark but hauntingly wonderful. “4 In The Morning” is in some ways like the song “Cool,” slow and upbeat. “Wonderful Life” has an upbeat driving style to it and great lyrics. “The Sweet Escape” is a bit sugary sweet but comes off well. Akon makes a guest appearance on the track.
“Now That You Got It” is a song that, at first, I didn’t like, but the more I listened to it the more it grew on me. “Don’t get Twisted” is a great dance track though the lyrics are a bit strange. “U Started It” is fun but it takes some time to grow on you.
There are a few of tracks that, while they are not my favorite, are not bad. Those include “Orange County Girl,” which, while it has a good sound, just didn’t work as an OC rap song though I suspect many will disagree with me.
“Fluorescent” is just a little too much 80’s pop music. “Breakin’ Up,” while clever and starts off promising, just doesn’t finish and “Yummy,” which features Pharrell, has a good sound to it and is very catchy; the lyrics are a bit lacking. None of this would dissuade me from purchasing this album.
The grade I give this album is A- because of the effort needed to create an album that was different than her first. It would be easy to look at this CD and say this isn’t what I expected after Love.Angel.Music.Baby., but I admire an artist that puts it on the line and challenges both themselves as well as their listeners.
The tracks are listed below
Wind It Up
The Sweet Escape – Featuring Akon
Orange County Girl
Now That You Got It
4 In The Morning
Yummy – featuring Pharrell
Don't Get It Twisted
U Started It