In many ways, Betsy feels like an artist from a different era. In a time when contemporary pop acts strive to be as relatable and down-to-earth as possible, Betsy strives for an other-worldly aesthetic, amplified by her ethereal and at times androgynous vocal style. There have been plenty of ‘heir to Cher’ comparisons but more accurately Betsy (real name Elizabeth Humfrey) seems to see herself in the tradition of the pop diva.
The Welsh singer’s debut album ‘Betsy’ doesn’t shy away from its pop ambitions, with ‘Little White Lies’ illustrating right from the beginning her vocal and songwriting prowess. This is immediately followed by ‘Lost & Found’, an out-and-out pop smash and perhaps the song which most typifies the ambition of the album.
The relentless energy of these opening tracks is sustained across the majority of the album, only slowing down for rare moments of reflection on ‘Fair’ and the closer ‘Body Burn’. Her vocal abilities are in some ways more impressive on these slower tracks, as we hear a more nuanced fragility that is sometimes lost on the more anthemic songs.
Although no song on the record is poor by any means, the album does lack a sense of real variety or experimentation. There are nods to other styles and artists, such as the opening melody to ‘Last Time We Danced’ which seems to pay homage to the Fatboy Slim classic ‘Praise You’. The closest we get to a real deviation from the pop-dance formula is the track ‘Hope’, which instead takes more of an influence from soul and gospel. However, any lack of experimentation is somewhat offset by the excellent songwriting and relatively short length of the album, closing before it starts to feel repetitive.
What ‘Betsy’ lacks in variety it makes up for in pure scale, delivering an impressive collection of potential pop hits. The album is handled with a confidence that many artists would take years to cultivate, however Betsy appears to make it seem effortless. With her debut album, the Welsh singer delivers a concise and confident pop-ready record.
Words: Will Rosebury
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