Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2002 13 track debut album from Neighbours star Holly Valance, called Footprints. Is this album like a snug pair of shoes, or should it go an sit on the Naughty step? Read on…
The album opens with her debut single, an English translation cover of Turkish singer Tarkan‘s hit called Kiss Kiss, and gave her a hit number one in both the UK and Australia. The song still retains its Turkish styling, and doesn’t stray far from his version. One of the writers here is Juliette Jaimes – who found fame as one of the session singers behind Natalie Browne – one of Almighty Records artists.
Next up is Tuck Your Shirt In, which is somewhat of a continuation in style from Kiss Kiss. This track is just as catchy, but sadly wasn’t released as a single.
Third track, Down Boy, was released as the second single, and scored her a #2 hit in the UK (#3 in Australia). It’s a bit of a electronically distorted track – that makes me feel like it would sit comfortably sat alongside something from Dannii Minogue‘s Neon Nights album. The track was no doubt helped along by having Nellee Hooper on production and remix, and pop aficionado Rob Davis on guitars and songwriter duties.
Acoustic guitar leads you into City Ain’t Big Enough, and becomes a mellow track, with some slouchy beats, bass, and luscious strings. Holly’s vocals are really warm and strong here, helping to showcase her diversity as not just yet-another-Australian-TV-star pop star.
Fifth track Cocktails And Parties reminds me somewhat of the William Orbit produced All Saints‘ hit Pure Shores. It’s perfectly mellow, and Holly makes light work of the vocals. Having said that, this definitely feels like an album track, as it is just SO calm, that I can’t imagine it doing much in the chart.
Whoop is a very catchy, guitar-fueled track, that sees Holly venture further along the Dannii-esque path. Unsurprisingly, Karen Poole has a writing and backing vocal credit here. There’s also a great little segment about 2.5mins in that sounds like it’s a harpsichord version played on a radio.
In contrast, Hush Now, is a bit of a dull track – sounding like a late-90s All Saints cast off. All In The Mind is another fairly dull track, repetitive, and whilst it borrows again from that Turkish style, it doesn’t really go anywhere.
Harder They Come is up next, and it ups the pace again a little but remains a fairly mellow track. Once again, the vocals feel like they’d be interchangeable with those from All Saints. Holly’s vocals are rich and warm here, and the beats are great. It’s just a nice track. Rob Davis takes on songwriting duties here again, in collaboration with Holly.
Track ten is Help Me Help You, which is lyrically dull, but like Harder They Come, it’s just a ‘nice’ track.
Naughty Girl, the third and final single from the album, is the 11th track. This track is slower than the other two singles, but this one takes on the William Orbit styling again, but during the chorus, Holly’s vocals sound like a Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, whilst Natalie Imbruglia during the verses. Odd, but once you hear it, you can’t not hear it.
The pace and temperature rises for penultimate track Connect, complete with a breathy ‘ash’ sample from a male vocalist. Biff Stannard takes some beat box and writing credits on this track, and that helps to answer why this track is pretty darn catchy.
Final track Send My Best opens like a Bjork track, with minimal samples and record scratches, before ushering in a rich acoustic guitar. Holly’s vocals here are quiet, warm here, although the chorus’ repeated word ‘heart‘ feels like it’s a bit too low for her, but all the same, this is a beautiful song, and a warm and fuzzy ending to this debut.
Where is Holly Valance now?
After this album, Holly released another in 2003 titled State Of Mind, and a single of the same name. Whilst the single gave her a #8 hit in the UK, the album flopped at #60. The album did better in Japan (reaching #12 and was certified Gold), beating the success of Footprints (#19).
Holly appears in the music video of Confusion Girl, a single by Frankmusik.
After this, Holly left the music industry.
POP RESCUE RATING:
If you’re only aware of Holly Valance through her singles, then you’re missing out.
This album has surprised me somewhat – whilst her attempts at more RnB styled tracks just leaves me feeling bored by the paint-by-numbers approach, her ability to sing on fast pop songs and slow acoustic ones, makes me feel confident that she could easily return to music if she felt inclined.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2002 UK CHART POSITION: #9, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.