AU ABROAD

Album Review: Delta Goodrem - Child of the Universe (2012)

For anybody who has ever seen Delta Goodrem in concert / in interviews / in person, it appears easy to understand why her new record is titled Child of the Universe. She’s bubbly, kind, and never stops smiling — But if you want an accurate tip-off as to what this record sounds like, you need look no further than the cover art: defiant stare, dress hitched up her thigh, and hands at the piano like a weapon…

The first song begins with a string intro that feels far longer than five seconds. We have just enough time to wonder where this is going when the piano crashes in, followed by ‘I grew up to be myself / still I feel there’s something else’ — and that’s exactly what the record sounds like. Her wide eyed lyrics, liquid gold vocals and emotive (occasionally melodramatic) piano riffs have matured the way we expected, but we’re finally seeing the ‘something else’ that we didn’t even know we wanted. From the cosmic orchestra of the title track, it only gets more interesting.

“Hunters And The Wolves” sees Delta immersing herself in the sultry side of being single. The stamping-drumming-clapping instrumental gives the song a tribal element, strengthened by the description of her romantic pursuers as hunters and wolves, while the lines ‘he makes me feel like / my body’s alive / on fire with the wonder / reminds me I’m a lover’ makes her meaning perfectly clear. The song is excellently produced and wildly atmospheric — arguably the best track on the album.

The dark ballad of “Control” is a stunning closer, with eerily echoing backing vocals that make it easy to imagine a music video: Delta playing piano in an abandoned room, interspersed with cuts of her arguing with a lover / lying alone in bed / eventually walking out the front door. Delta’s impressive range is really showcased in this song, with verses that get higher and higher until the sudden drop at the chorus for the lines ‘taking back control / watch as I leave’.

The record isn’t without its flaws, though. “Dancing With A Broken Heart” is still one of the weakest songs of her career, even though she has obviously, hilariously, attempted to fix it with the ‘Album Version’ (for the record — literally — it is an improvement). Luckily, the other Delta-Does-Dance song, “Touch”, is a success: Delta runs her fingers down memory lane and feels her connection to her past... Aw.

The best thing about the new record is the diversity of styles, because she can really show off her best asset, from the rock-tinged vocals on “When My Stars Come Out” to the Mariah Carey-style harmonies on “Safe to Believe”. There are plenty of songs which pay their respects to her musical roots, for the fans of her older stuff, but Delta has always had a versatile voice. As ostentatiously titled as it is, Child of the Universe has developed and expanded her sound — and it’s long overdue.

Review Score: 7.8 out of 10.