Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2000 debut album Gotta Tell You by Irish singer Samantha Mumba.
This 12 track album, which appears to be a Canadian edition, opens with debut single and title track Gotta Tell You. There’s some wonderfully growly synths in this song. Samantha’s vocals are rich but very low and a bit too growly in the verses with plenty of ‘bay-beh’ moments, sounding not a million miles from her contemporaries Britney Spears and Billie Piper (even the video reeks of their dance moves). By the time of the chorus, the song turns lighter and really quite catchy. Some good vocal harmonies and light strings help to sew it all together into a great little pop track. Unsurprisingly it reached #2 in the UK.
Next up is second single Body II Body, which is probably the only one of her tracks I can remember being released. This track is slower, and a much slicker RnB sound. It is definitely aided in catchiness by the use of a sample of Ashes To Ashes by David Bowie.
Fourth single Baby Come On Over follows, and again this is laden with some of 2000’s best RnB sounds, and is wonderfully catchy, with layers of backing vocals. As previous track, the production is slick, although it definitely sounds like a missing Billie Piper track.
Isn’t It Strange follows, and this is a pretty chilled out mellow song. Again the track is a warm wash of vocal layers. There’s some wonderfully funky guitars and piano here, punctuated by some dramatic synth stabs. Over all, this song sounds like a slower version of Touch Of Soul‘s 1990 single We Got The Love.
This is followed by fifth and final single Lately, which sounds like the kind of dreary dirge that every X Factor winner has to record. Tedious, nauseating, and paint-by-numbers ballad. The only good part of this track is that it breaks it down right in the middle before the spewnami of the obligatory key change. It’s therefore unsurprising that Samantha’s career begun when Louis Walsh discovered her on an Irish TV talent show.
There’s some wonderfully catchy horns on next track What’s It Gonna Be, which again sounds like a Billie Piper track that you’ve kind of forgotten. Still, Samantha makes light work of the vocals, and she’s joined by a croaky-voiced backing vocalist who goes uncredited. Again, there’s plenty of ‘oh bay-beh‘ moments in this song. Musically, it’s quite a nice light, chilled out song with some great guitar and piano.
Always Come Back To Your Love is up next, and this is a wonderfully catchy track with a wonderful melody, a great guitar riff and a scattering of piano over the top. Samantha’s joined on ‘talks’ by D-Flex, who thankfully gives a nice contrast to her sections of the song. I really like this song, and this reached #3 in the UK when it was released as the third single.
Record scratches open Lose You Again, as a mid-tempo RnB beat leads Samantha into the first verse. There’s a nice funky bass here, with some slick beats. It reminds me somewhat of next track, Feelin Is Right although it does have a stronger bass and melody.
Some lovely strings and guitars open the finger-clicking orchestral sounding number, Never Meant To Be. Samantha shows off her softer vocals here, but also gets to show of her vocal power too with some high and longer notes. She’s aided perfectly by The Trondheim Gospel Choir, who join in with some heavenly backing vocals as the song slowly builds. The song even manages some almost 80’s electric guitar as the song reaches it’s final push.
Penultimate track Believe In Me is a really nice little up-tempo, light pop track. Whilst there’s more of those ‘bay-beh’ moments, the song bounces along wonderfully and really should have been a single.
The album closes with Til The Night Becomes The Day, which gives Samantha another chance to show off her softer, dreamy lighter pop vocals – ‘let me take you to the Milky Way‘ she sings, unless that’s a euphemism. There’s a few musical echoes of early All Saints and later Eternal tracks, and overall it gives the album a nice gentle warm ending.
Over all, this is the third best Billie Piper album she never made.
The David Bowie sample was an inspired choice on Body II Body, and Always Come Back To Your Love and Believe In Me are complete gems, however, the rest of the tracks are very closely stylised by the sound that both Billie and Britney very much ruled. This sound-a-like at least allowed Samantha to gain success, but the rest of the album doesn’t stray too far.
Also, whoever designed the cover deserves shooting. This dark and gloomy cover, which actually looks nowhere as light as the scanned image above, must have appeared unappealing in 2000. No wonder it ended up with a bright yellow and red cover for the US release.
Where is Samantha Mumba now?
Samantha’s disappearance from the charts was as sudden as her arrival. Her final charting single was I’m Right Here, giving her a #5 hit in the UK.
After leaving the music industry, she focussed on acting, starring in films The Time Machine (2002) and … and also appeared as a contestant on…
She is apparently back in the studio working on her second album, scheduled for release in 2016.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2000 UK CHART POSITION: #9, certified Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.