Twelve years ago, on December 5th, 2011, Rebecca Ferguson released her debut album, Heaven. As an alumna of The X Factor – she finished the 2010 series as runner-up to Matt Cardle – the Liverpudlian has fought the perception of her as a music-industry puppet. You don’t have to dig too deeply to discover that, from the very start, she was made of tougher material than too many other former contestants we can no longer remember.
Also, releasing Heaven Part II (her first and, she has implied, final independent album) on December 5th has a neat symmetry. As if a square is being circled with a big red marker, she clearly aims to go out with a batch of songs that prove her value. As she has ever since her debut album, Ferguson has insisted on writing or co-writing her songs. (Not all X Factor alumni were so astute.)
Between sticking to her artistic beliefs and retiring from the music industry – she is retreating, she says, because she would prefer “finding a way to have a relationship with music which is positive” – Ferguson is making a crucial point. That she chooses to do so while bowing out with such strong and personalised soul/pop songs is a statement in itself. We haven’t heard the last of her, that’s for sure.