Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, August 10, 2001

Aaliyah smartly surrounds herself with ace producers.

Ah, if only Aaliyah
had more range

Aaliyah (Blackground/Virgin)

Review by Gary C.W. Chun

I had always thought of Aaliyah as an urban singer smart enough to surround herself with ace producers who made sure she sounded as good as she looked. But where Ferman and I disagree is that sometimes "urban assembly-line pop" works when you least expect it. In Aaliyah's case, her work with the masterful Timbaland ("Back and Forth") is proof positive that the right producer can work that "thin, average voice" of hers to the music's advantage.

Timbaland returns to produce three tracks for Aaliyah's latest joint, and, to be honest, that magic luster has faded a bit. The song he co-wrote with the livin'-large Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, "I Care 4 U," finds Aaliyah's smolder over a fine bit of musical product, but little else. "More Than a Woman" and the current single, "We Need a Resolution," have little to recommend except his astonishing melding of beats.

Instead, the most sympathetic production work comes from Rapture and E. Seats from Keybeats. Besides the aforementioned sensual and erotic jams "Rock the Boat" and "It's Whatever," "Those Were the Days" is the album's best hook-filled song overall, with Aaliyah singing with a little needed urgency in her vocal.

But, ah, Aaliyah, if only you had possessed a wider vocal range! The woman just can't sell potentially decent songs like "Never No More" and "Extra Smooth" in that quiet, intimate voice of hers. And there's no way she could've overcome the superficial plushness of "I Refuse," a song of no heat and all the lusterless dazzle of romantic clichés.

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin