There was much talk about Leona Lewis when she won 'The X Factor' in 2006 after wowing judges and viewers alike, but not so much talk when she seemed to disappear off the face of the earth shortly afterwards.

After being whisked off to the US to work with some of the world's most renowned producers, it became obvious that nothing was going to be rushed where the career of this singing sensation was concerned. But has the wait paid off on her debut album, 'Spirit'?

With 'Bleeding Love' going straight to Number One in the UK charts, expectation for the rest of this collection was high and, for the most part, the tracks on 'Spirit' don't disappoint.

'Whatever It Takes' is an upbeat number that sets a pacey tone and shows that Lewis can experiment with styles outside of her 'slushy ballad' comfort zone. 'Take a Bow' and 'The Best You've Never Had' further serve to cement this assertion, proving that Leona Lewis, contrary to initial perceptions, is probably more suited to the Beyoncé end of the market than the Mariah end.

Tracks like 'Homeless', 'I'm You' and 'Yesterday' are less successful – driven by vocal acrobatics rather than catchy beats or hooks. But they don't serve to dull your hopes for Lewis' future potential as you listen to the album and are constantly reminded of her powerful, yet gentle, voice.

If there is, however, a defining fault with Lewis' debut, it is that she often plays it too safe by conforming to expectation. While 'Spirit' showcases her vocal range and undoubted talent, it doesn't set her apart from the current crop of songstresses in any remarkable way.

Still, if it's big ballads and a big voice you're looking for, then Leona Lewis is your woman.

Linda McGee