Perhaps best known for her guest features on rap songs by Bushido and others, Cassandra Steen makes a bid for solo success with Darum Leben Wir, a well-produced album with several great songs. Darum Leben Wir is Steen's full-length recording debut for Universal Music, and for many listeners, it's likely their introduction to the contemporary R&B singer, who signed with the label in 2007. Actually, despite her young age and fresh face, Steen has been around for over a decade. She got her start in the late '90s with the Stuttgart rap group Freundeskreis, making her commercial recording debut on their album Quadratur des Kreises (1997). She later teamed up with producer/songwriter Moses Pelham and musician Martin Haas to form the soul-pop trio Glashaus, whose debut single, "Wenn das Liebe Ist," was a Top Five hit in 2001. The group ended up releasing three albums and scored several more hits, but Steen had more success as the featured singer on rap hits by Bushido and Azad. Indeed, she appeared on three albums by Bushido, arguably the most successful German-language rapper in the world. She also experienced success as a featured guest on "Wann," a Top 40 hit single from fellow R&B singer Xavier Naidoo's MTV Unplugged album in 2008. The high-profile collaborations with Bushido and Naidoo set the stage for Darum Leben Wir, Steen's long-awaited solo album follow-up to Seele mit Herz (2003), her little-heard, largely unsuccessful debut solo album from six years prior. Darum Leben Wir is a far different album than Seele mit Herz. Indeed, it's something of a sure-fire hit, as Steen worked on it with a team of experienced hitmakers including Adel Tawil, Sebastian Kirchner, and Flo Fischer of Ich + Ich; and the production team of Marek Pompetzki and Paul NZA, who did a lot of work for the Aggro Berlin collective, most notably Sido, before going mainstream with the chart-topping Stefanie Heinzmann album Masterplan (2008). With all this fire power on her side, it's no surprise that Steen comes up with several great songs on Darum Leben Wir, most notably the title track, "Glaub Ihnen Kein Wort," and "Stadt," all three of which were written by the Ich + Ich team, the latter featuring Tawil on vocals. Another highlight is "Lass Mich Nicht Hier," a duet with Naidoo. Clocking in at 11 songs in 40 minutes, Darum Leben Wir is relatively brief, which is for the better because the album drags toward the end, when the Ich + Ich-written material runs out. In the end, Darum Leben Wir is one of the more impressive contemporary R&B albums to emerge from Germany in a while, and it bodes well for Steen's second shot at a solo recording career. Though it's unfortunate that she can't write strong material of her own, she has an attractive voice and star presence. If she can continue working with a winning team of songwriters and producers like she does here, fans can count on more hits.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Xavier Naidoo
feat: Adel Tawil