Recording information: 80 Hertz, Manchester; Air Edel Studios, London; AngelFace Studios, Churt; Angelic Studios, Brackley; Britannia Row Studios, London; Daptone Records, House of Soul, Brooklyn, NY; Instrument Zoo, Miami, FL; Milkboy Studios, Philadelphia, PA; Mutley Ranch, London, UK; NRG Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Oven Studios; Patriot Studios, Denver, CO; Rokstone Studios, London; Sonora Recorders, Los Angeles, CA; Sphere Studios, London, UK; The Music Shed, London; The Record Residence; Tritonus Studio, Berlin; Westlake Recording Studio, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Guy Aroch.
Ella Henderson didn't win the ninth season of the U.K.'s X-Factor -- she came in at sixth -- but she made a more lasting impression than some of her competitors, as evidenced by the release of her major-label debut Chapter One in 2014, nearly two years after television pushed her into the spotlight. Like many modern pop albums, Chapter One has many cooks, chief among them the production team TMS, but also Steve Mac and Ryan Tedder, who are responsible for the singles "Glow" and "Ghost," respectively. Henderson does share some similarities with Tedder's career-making diva Leona Lewis -- there's a glassiness to the ballads that nearly generates a reflection from the listener -- but she adheres closely to a strain of new millennial U.K. pop that stretches from Natasha Bedingfield to Ellie Goulding: dance-savvy, generation-hopping adult contemporary, informed by a past where girl groups and Tamla/Motown are ground zero and equally suited for clubs or waiting rooms. Henderson is a considerably more forceful singer than Bedingfield and Goulding -- she's carrying the torch passed down from Amy Winehouse and Adele -- and that helps give the cheery polish a bit of grit, which is ultimately the thing that makes Chapter One a promising debut. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine