By Grady Smith
May 23, 2012 at 04:17 PM EDT

Haley Reinhart’s debut album Listen Up! hit stores on May 22. Below check out an extended online review of the American Idol alum’s set:

If there is one word that could be used to describe the vast majority of post-Idol debut albums, it’s “bland.” Thankfully, Season 10’s resident growler Haley Reinhart has delivered a debut disc that almost entirely defies that fate. Listen Up!, a vibrant neo-soul collection filled with blasting horns and funky ’60s grooves (and even some ’70s disco), takes full advantage of Reinhart’s remarkable voice, which can flip from bell-clear coo to throaty belt in an instant.

Tracks like “Wasted Tears” and “Hit the Ground Running” showcase Reinhart’s sassy delivery, while the plaintive ballad “Undone” and hopeful breakup lament “Free” reveal a refreshingly vulnerable side. Lyrically, Reinhart (who co-wrote every song on the album except “Free”) shifts between flirtatious come-on-overs and more aggressive naughtiness. “It’s been a while since I tapped into my appetite/But that hunger’s coming back tonight,” she sings to her chosen suitor (or is he a victim?) on sexy rocker “Spiderweb,” available on Listen Up‘s deluxe edition.

Occasionally, the album suffers from overproduction — bellowing echo chambers unnecessarily obscure her voice on the B.O.B. collab “Oh My!” — but that’s a minor quibble for this ambitiously retro collection, which places the chanteuse in the same category as young old souls like Duffy, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Adele. B+

Download these:

Fiery independence anthem Hit the Ground Runnin’

Disco-tinged Now That You’re Here

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