The artist Rhian Benson has been getting most often
compared to is Sade. While there are certainly some surface
similarities... they both sing sultry smooth jazz, they were both born in
Africa, they are both striking women... in the long run I think that to
compare Rhian Benson to Sade is selling Benson short. Honestly, I
greatly prefer Benson's debut album to the chilly jazz-lite that has been
Sade Adu's stock-in-trade for all these years. Rhian Benson is hot
where Sade is cold. Rhian Benson is passionate where Sade is distant.
And, frankly, the songs are just better.
The album starts off on sure footing with the
stunningly sultry "Words Hurt Too," where Benson mourns the destruction that
spiteful language can impart on a relationship. Benson's voice oozes
over a subtle bed of saxophone and shuffling percussion in a lovely
retro-sounding production. She follows up with "Say How I Feel," a
swooning, whispered pastiche of 70s soul jams.
"The One" is the kind of gorgeously swaying soulful
song that Whitney Houston should be singing now in order to get her career
back on track, and with any radio play at all Benson's version could become
an adult contemporary smash. Her songwriting can get reduced to the
basics in the haunting simple groove of "Soul Boy," or she can take chances
like the African vibe of "Spirit."
All in all, Gold Coast is a very impressive debut album that doesn't
need or deserve to be compared to anything else. (5/04)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright © 2004 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: May 23, 2004.
RETURN TO RECORD
Copyright © 2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: May 23, 2004.