After eight years and a whole lot of trouble, Rita Ora's sophomore album finally lands in stores today. Here's everything you need to know about Phoenix...
If everything had gone according to plan, we could have been talking about Rita Ora's sophomore album as far back as 2014, but as anyone who has been keeping an eye on the saga that has unfolded over the last few years will tell you, to say things didn't go to plan would be quite the understatement.
Just a year after the release of her chart-topping 2012 debut album Ora, the singer was already talking publicly about what we could expect from its follow-up. With her debut now certified platinum, Ora was deep into the writing and recording process for album number two, unveiling what was intended to be the album's lead single, “I Will Never Let You Down', in March 2014. Like many of the sings Ora had been working on at the time, the single was co-written with her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris, who had reportedly co-written a number of the sings intended for the singer's sophomore LP.
But then things started to unravel. Following an acrimonious split form Harris, the Scottish DJ and producer refused to allow Ora to release or even perform any of the songs he had contributed to, leaving the singer with no choice but to start over.
To make matters worse, Ora's relationship with her management team at Jay-Z's Roc Nation had begun to deteriorate, with the singer claiming that she had turned in several albums' worth of material which they had refused to allow her to. The resulting legal dispute dragged on for months and then years, effectively putting the handbrake on her career until she finally extricated herself from her contract in 2016. Unfortunately, the music recorded in the meantime remained licensed to Roc Nation, and once again Ira was forced to start from scratch.
Since signing a new deal with Atlantic Records, however, Ora has been slowly but steadily getting her career back on track and in September this year the singer announced the release date and title for her long-awaited second album.
The aptly-titled Phoenix finally makes its arrival in stores today, here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Having finally overcome all the legal obstacles in her way, Ora released the Ed Sheeran-penned 'Your Song', her first single for two years – and the first cut from her new album – in May 2017, with a second single 'Anywhere' following in October, both of them landing in the UK Singles Chart's Top 10. A collaboration with Liam Payne for the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack arrived in January this year, followed in May by 'Girls', another hit which featured performances from Cardi B, Chali XCX and Bebe Rexha.
By early September rumours of a release date for her sophomore LP had begin swirling and Ora confirmed the release date and title on September 18th.
Who's producing it?
Ora has recruited a laundry list of production talent to work on her second album, including the likes of Steve Mac, Alesso, Andrew Watt, Ali Payami and Jonny Coffer. There's also a track written and produced in collaboration with the late superstar DJ Avicii, which features additional production from Cashmere Cat and Benny Blanco.
Any special guests?
Aside from the already mentioned collaborators featured on 'Girls' and the cuts with Avicii and Liam Payne, there are a couple more guest slots on the album too; Rudimental feature on the track 'Summer Love' and the album's penultimate track, 'Keep Talking', features an appearance from singer-songwriter Julia Michaels.
What does it sound like?
With half of the 12 tracks on the standard version of Phoenix already released as singles, you probably know the answer to that as well as we do. Songs like 'Anywhere', 'Your Song' and 'Let You Love Me' are dancefloor-friendly pop bangers as immaculately crafted as any you're likely to hear this year, with others such as 'Girls' bringing a more R&B kind of vibe to the Phoenix party.
Elsewhere there's the drum and bass stylings of Rudimental collaboration 'Summer Love' and the slow-building dancefloor anthem 'Lonely Together', while on the album's deluxe version, which features an additional four tracks, there are trap-style beats on 'Cashmere' and soulful gospel vibes on 'Velvet Rope'.
Does it deliver?
With such a long a troubled path to its release you have to give Rita Ora some credit for persevering in the face of adversity, and the fact that Phoenix has arrived in such good shape is a minor miracle in itself. Given the way in which the album has been put together, it's perhaps not surprising that Phoenix sometimes feels more like a collection of singles, but when they're this well-crafted her fans are unlikely to mind too much.
Phoenix has pretty much everything you'd want from a pop album and we can only imagine the sense of relief the singer must be feeling now that it's finally out. It'll be interesting to see what Ora does next, but on its own merit Phoenix is an album that's as good as anyone might have dared to hope.
Phoenix is out now - you can find it here in our online store.