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Review: Haley Reinhart’s new album ‘Listen Up!’ not quite ‘Heaven’ on ears

Haley Reinhart is fresh out of the “American Idol” factory with her debut album “Listen Up!” The CD, pop-infused with elements of jazz, has a mainstream feel while offering a new flavor to the airwaves.

“Free,” the lead single from the CD, proves to be a powerful and smooth track that displays her vocal talents, compared to other tracks which sell Reinhart’s talents short. After all, she made it to the top three in season 10 of “Idol,” although country crooner Scotty McCreery won. 

“Undone,” one of her most popular tracks, has a similar effect on listeners as “Free,” with its simple yet highly complementary orchestral and piano accompaniment. This is a track that also highlights Reinhart’s vocal range and abilities.

“Oh My!” which features B.o.B., is one of the better songs on the album, but still lacks in some areas. The track has a decent melody and a prominent jazzy feel, due to an awesome jazz band in the background. Many songs lose this jazz quality as the album progresses. However, as this is her first album, most of the negatives can be forgiven. A new artist should be measured by their most impressive songs, because those songs show what the artists are capable of doing in the future.

Some songs are a total miss, such as “Keep Coming Back” and bonus track “Follow Me (I’m Right Behind You).” Both lack strong melodies and are frankly a little painful to the ear.

Other songs don’t showcase Reinhart’s distinguished vocal talents very much but are still worth a listen. In particular, “Walking on Heaven” makes you feel as though you’re up on the clouds. I actually picture myself walking to class smiling with cartoon animals frolicking around me because it is such a happy song.

“Wonderland” is a fun track with a brass accompaniment, though it is neither a ballad nor a fast-paced song. It is reminiscent of jazz songs from earlier decades.

Reinhart is a performer worth noticing. Given some more experience in the industry, she could be a powerhouse vocalist and perform some memorable tracks. However, given her performances on “Idol,” this CD comes as a bit of a disappointment. Instead of voicing the talent that got her so far, Reinhart sounds too much like the majority of pop stars who offer nothing special.

Grade: C+

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