Life and soul of the party: Beverley Knight’s new album The Fifth Chapter

Legends love Beverley. David Bowie called her “little Aretha”. Prince adored her voice so much he flew her to LA to sing at his Oscars after-party.

Wolverhampton-born Knight has been impressing audiences since the 90s with her first-class gospel-powered soul vocals.

She has chalked up Top 10 hits, gold and platinum albums, and sustained a long parallel career in musical theatre where she has won three Olivier Awards.

Now the bona fide national treasure celebrates turning 50 with a new studio album spanning the “kaleidoscope” of her soul influences.

Tracks range from the 80s-inspired pop-funk of Systematic Overload to big ballads and irresistible northern soul. It’s a smart mix of Bev’s influences, all delivered with class and style.

Queen Of Everything is built to pack out dancefloors, Not Prepared For You is an old-school R&B ballad.

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The opener Last One On My Mind begins deceptively slowly, just Knight and a simple piano, before building into a sparkling modern dance number overflowing with exuberance.

The beat goes on with retro disco The One I’m Gonna Love before slowing down with Cold World, an uplifting gospel ballad backed by the London Community Gospel Choir.

The choir returns on the insistent I’m On Fire with its explosive chorus, and on the jubilant closer Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.

These 11 new numbers are a testimony to the creative powers of the songwriters Knight has assembled – Diane Warren, Ollie Green, Andrew Roachford and Seb Coe (not the runner) – as well as top-notch producers.

Result? An immaculate set from a world-class performer who is hard to pigeonhole.

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