Rachel Platten, "Wildfire" (Columbia)
If Platten were a figure skater, she'd do an entertaining, elegant routine with a low degree of difficulty. Nothing wrong with that. The veteran of the New York scene has certainly worked hard to get where she is, and her breakthrough hit "Fight Song" was one of the most inspirational pop songs of 2015. However, her major label debut could use more of that "Fight Song" fire. As simple as "Fight Song" is, every word is fraught with competing emotions, desperation and anger and defiance and triumph. Without that intensity, Platten's songs ring a bit too ordinary. The new single "Stand by You" is an exception, as Platten sounds unshakable over the synth swells and booming beats of the catchy anthem with the help of fun.'s Jack Antonoff. "Hey Hey Hallelujah" is another exception, though not a positive one, as Platten flexes early '00s pop-soul and then oddly lets Andy Grammer rap nonsense. "Lone Ranger" is more representative of "Wildfire," its galloping heart in the right place, but resulting in something that's kind of clever, yet essentially blank. Platten needs to let go a little more because her "Wildfire" stays a bit too cozy.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday