The Brand New Heavies

Allabouthefunk

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A belated American issue of the Brand New Heavies' 2004 album Allabouthefunk was already fundamentally outdated by the time it hit U.S. shores. This is the sole Brand New Heavies album to feature singer Nicole Russo (the great N'Dea Davenport came back to the fold for 2006's Get Used to It), and likely due to Russo's comparatively lightweight voice, this is easily the fluffiest and most pop-oriented album of the band's career. Russo looks like Keira Knightley (a good thing) but sounds like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas (a considerably less good thing), and as if to compensate for Russo's vocal shortcomings, stalwart producers Simon Bartholomew, Andrew Love Levy, and Jan Kincaid went equally flaccid on the beats and hooks. The results are limp lite-R&B singles like the vaguely Latin-sounding "Surrender" and '70s disco throwbacks like "Boogie," along with a distressing amount of sound-alike filler. Only glimmers of the Brand New Heavies' trademark dancefloor suss peek through soulless, over-produced pop songs like "Need Some More," and the weak-tea ballad cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" was simply a bad idea. American labels had the right idea in the first place.

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