Ellie Goulding, 'Lights' (Cherrytree/Interscope)

7
Lights
Critical Mass
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Label: Cherrytree/Interscope

by Caryn Ganz

When Ellie Goulding emerged two years ago, few would've compared the strummy singer- songwriter to currentU.K. pop wild child Jessie J. But producer Starsmith -- who's remixed Katy Perry and Lady Gaga -- nudged Goulding onto the dance floor, where she's nowJessie's good-girl counterpart, blending folky melodies with amped-up '80s-style synths and beats. On this debut full-length, already a U.K. No. 1, she glides through blippy anthems ("Starry Eyed"), pumping disco ("Animal"), and delicate grooves ("Lights") with a pixie-ish voice that's one notch sweeter than Metric's Emily Haines. Her closer, a cover of Elton John's "Your Song," is everything Gaga's Grammy version wasn't -- a tender, vulnerable gift.

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