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Reviews 29/08/2003

Album Of The Week

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Gillingham, Kent, UK (By Mikey) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop. At the end of the page, you will find all future album releases.

Blu Cantrell - Bittersweet
Release Date: Aug 11, 2003

LA Reid, the massively influential President of Arista Records, has made his label one of the most potent in America in recent years through the cultivation of what we could reasonably call feisty ingé: chiefly teenage women like Avril Lavigne and Pink who sell legislated rebellion to their peers. His latest R&B success, however, is somewhat different.

The album that followed, 'So Blu', did much to cement her reputation as a new R'n'B talent. Follow that up with second set 'Bittersweet' and it seems that Blu Cantrell is here to stay. The new album features the elementally catchy 'Breathe', as voiced with Sean Paul, and is just the right kind of urban block-party-in-a-box that looks at life's emotions through a positive viewpoint. Says Blu: 'through my music, I bring a sense of light to dark subjects, especially in relationships...I wanted to give you real emotions with a sense of fun. I hope the fans enjoy the aural experience as much as I enjoyed creating it.'

Blu Cantrell is officially in her late twenties, though conceivably a little older. In contrast to the orchestrated adolescent strops of Reid's other current projects, Cantrell's unique selling point is her experience. So 'Bittersweet', her second album, is full of rueful, tough reflections on love and such. One significant ex, allegedly the subject matter of many of these songs is an unnamed basketball pro. Another - though Cantrell denies this one, in the main - is rumoured to be Jay-Z. Then there's the small matter of a few soft porn shots of her that have been enthusiastically circulated since the mid '90s.

A lively back-story, then, to support the excellent singles which Cantrell releases every year or so. 'Breathe' you'll doubtless know by now, being the sparky duet with the 2003 Top Ten's Mr Ubiquitous, Sean Paul. Paul is such a commercial cert these days that his rhymes crop up on 'Bittersweet' even when he doesn't: 'Impatient' features Lil' Kim chanting the hook from his 'Gimme The Light' single. You may remember 'Hit 'Em Up Style', too, Cantrell's hit from a couple of years back that nimbly rides a big band sample - and figured on Cantrell's 'So Blu' debut album, as well as here.

There are a few other strutting, engaging tunes from the same mould on 'Bittersweet': 'Happily Ever After' is a choppy, nagging potential hit; 'Round Up' fuses country, hip-hop and dancehall and just about gets away with it; and best of all there's 'Swingin', which uses the big band/ R&B hybrid in much the same way that Lina did on her undervalued 2001 album, 'Stranger On Earth'. 'Make me wanna scream' is the next intended single, featuring Ian Lewis of Inner Circle due for release on October 13.

However, Cantrell is much more conservative than her hits might suggest. A lot of the exhaustingly numerous tracks reveal the real Blu Cantrell - as one of those wounded-but-proud, jazz-influenced singers of a certain age. At their best - 'I Love You', 'All You Had To Say' - they're unfashionably reminiscent of Anita Baker. Mostly, though, they're worthy, impeccably crafted, emotionally wise and a tiny bit dull. Buy Cantrell's singles, and look instead for last year's lovely album by Truth Hurts, which negotiated similar territory with edge as well as class.

1 I Love You
2 Sleep In The Middle
3 Unhappy
4 Impatient (feat. Lil' Kim & Fat Joe)
5 Breathe (feat. Sean Paul) [Rap Version]
6 Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)
7 Risk It All
8 Don't Wanna Say Goodbye
9 All You Had To Say
10 Happily Ever After
11 Holding On To Love
12 Swingin
13 Let Her Go
14 Round Up - Blu Cantrell & Lady May
15 Make Me Wanna Scream (feat. Ian Lewis of Inner Circle)
16 No Place Like Home
NEXT REVIEW: Kym Marsh 'Standing Tall'

Album Release Schedule

September 8
David Bowie - Reality
Cooper Temple Clause - Kick Up A Fire And Let He Flames Break Loose
Iron Maiden - Dance With Death
Elvis Presley - Second To None: The Greatest Hits
Spiritualized - Amazing Grace

September 15
Gloria Estefan - Unwrapped
Human League - The Very Best Of
Beth Orton - Pass In Time: The Anthology
Seal - Seal IV
Starsailor - Silence Is Easy

September 22
Gareth Gates - Go Your Own Way
R Kelly - The R In The R&B: Greatest Hits Collection Volume One
Lemonescent - Unconditional Love
Limp Bizkit - Results May Vary
Muse - Absolution
Nickelback - The Long Road
So Solid Crew - Second Verse
Sting - Sacred Love

September 29
Dido - Life For Rent
Lisa Scott-Lee - Unleashed
Lene Marlin - Another Day
Wheatus - Hand Over Your Loved Ones

October 6
Blondie - The Curse Of Blondie
Siobhan Donaghy - Revolution In Me
Soft Cell - Soft Cell Live

October 13
Rachel Stevens - Funky Dory
Travis - Twelve Memories

October 20
David Sneddon - Seven Years, Ten Weeks
Suede - Singles
Texas - Careful What You Wish For

October 27
Sophie Ellis Bextor - Shoot From The Hip
Stacie Orrico - Stacie Orrico
REM - In Time: The Greatest Hits

November 3
Mark Owen - In Your Own Time

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