Can a folk warbler be a pop diva? The debut album by singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding proves that the answer is yes. Goulding, from Hereford, England, has a classic British folkie’s voice — the kind of tremulous soprano that evokes a wintry day on a fog-swaddled moor. But Lights places her vocals and minor-key melodies against producer Starsmith’s club-ready mix of synths and brisk, busy electro rhythms. The results are moody (“Lights”), pretty (the Top Five U.K. hit “Starry Eyed”) and uniformly catchy. On first listen, Goulding can sound innocuous: Dido with dancier beats. But there’s darkness here. And lots of sex. “I will take away my feelings/I will be an animal,” she sings, and you believe her.
Listen to “Starry Eyed”: