Last seen fox trotting around Bruce Forsyth’s dementia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor probably never intended for ‘Wanderlust’ to sound like a bid for West-end Theatre Land – the next logical step for any singer that defibrillates their career with the shock of Strictly Come Dancing – but much of this dramatic collaboration with Ed Hardcourt showcases Bextor’s ability to tell a story through song.

The singer’s bird-like warble shares centre stage here with Hardcourt’s string arrangements that rise and fall throughout the Broadway plot twists, from the Arabic rush of the opening ‘Birth Of An Empire’ to the chipper ‘Runaway Dreamer’ that sees our protagonist pull herself out of squalor and onto a road of self discovery. Even at its most ‘pop’, a track like ‘13 Dolls’ conjures images of an ensemble cast stepping in time. Bextor should be on the stage; Hardcourt her destined wing(s)man.


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