By Melissa Mollohan

Just as the beginning of a newspaper article is written to lure the reader to actually read the rest of the article, the opening track of Natasha Bedingfield’s CD Pocketful of Sunshine lures the listener (AKA me) to actually listen to the rest of the album. Way to go, Natasha.When the first song, Put Your Arms Around Me, begins, I can’t help but break into a huge smile and explode into a weird dance fit. Now, that’s a way to start an album.

Actually, almost all of Britain-born Bedingfield’s songs make me dance.

And I don’t know what it is about Bedingfield’s music, but it exudes a summer vibe. Maybe it’s because summer is a time with no worries (no school) and Bedingfield preaches in her music not to worry.

Put Your Arms Around Me and Happy, specifically, make me think of summer, when I can be seen dancing in my car with my huge sunglasses on, windows rolled down and the music turned up. It’s a great feeling. You should try it.

Speaking of Happy, this song is a creative mix of reggae, soul and gospel sounds, which are all sounds that make ME happy. Also, her positive outlook shines through in her lyrics: “.there’s so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy.”

This positive energy is reiterated in the title track, Pocketful of Sunshine.

And Bedingfield combines optimism with strength by singing, “Do what you want, but you’re never gonna break me. Sticks and stones are never gonna shake me.”

Even on her Web site, Bedingfield can be seen as an independent, strong woman. And she has the strong voice to back it up.

The theme of strength continues with Freckles. This song has a country vibe to it and it relates to girls who have doubts about themselves. Bedingfield asks listeners, “Why waste a second not loving who you are?”

In Soulmate, Bedingfield relates again to young women, but this time it’s about guys (isn’t it always?). Girls seriously think about relationships a lot. They wonder when they will meet “the one.” Girls wonder why they haven’t found him yet. Bedingfield has those feelings too: “Who doesn’t long for someone to hold who knows how to love you without being told? Somebody tell me why I’m on my own when there’s a soulmate for everyone.”

But Bedingfield also hits a key note (no pun intended) when she sings her latest hit Love Like This with Sean Kingston. People do fall in love and sometimes they think they will never find love like that ever again.

And that song sure does get stuck in your head. However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Yet. The song is catchy and fun. For now.

Bedingfield’s album also includes Say it Again, which was co-written by Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine. You can hear his influence in the track.

You should also check out Piece of Your Heart, in which Bedingfield sounds like a very female Justin Timberlake.

For an R&B vibe, listen to Angel, or for a serious punk vibe, check out the track Not Givin’ Up.

And to end the CD with as big a bang as it started, Bedingfield added two extra tracks to the album: live solo versions of Love Like This and her hit Unwritten, which is featured as the theme song on MTV’s The Hills.

She sure does have a lot to be happy about.