Dreams Never Die

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Tiffany chose the "if you can't beat em, take your music to Japan" approach for Dreams Never Die, an import album which quickly became her fans' pick. However, It is going to take more than a "pleasant" album to revive a dead career. At least Tiffany has learned a thing or two from her urban-dance inspired 1993 flop New Inside, her most important lesson being that one should be one's self, or at least who one appeared to be upon first hitting the pop music scene and garnering a faithful following in 1986. The liner notes for Dreams Never Die remind us that at age 14, Tiffany was "the youngest female artist to score a #1 LP on Billboard's charts" with her quadruple platinum debut album. Dreams Never Die is an album full of potential; in some ways it is a return to her earlier music, and in other ways it's a mellower album that fits comfortably within the boundaries of adult contemporary. Here, Tiffany has called on her old producer George Tobin as well as writers from her first two albums, all of whom she had abandoned since the late '80s. Her voice is undeniably capable -- a raspy, ranged, Mariah Carey-meets-Stevie Nicks sort of voice -- but it has little room to showcase on this album. "Loneliness," for example, is a very engaging song laden with charming sound effects, but in addition to its tacky message and poor grammar ("Loneliness will bring you and I together again"), the vocals sound buried beneath the production, as though the music was recorded for a dance club while the vocal tracks were recorded with a garage band. There is better production on her version of Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine," which she sings with pure confidence; by the time she screams "I want to know if you want me, need me, love me," she has proven her vocal power, if not shredded her chords. Tiffany even returns to earlier country roots (the style of music she sang as a child) on "Sam Loves Joann," which combines a very hummable melody with the emotional story of a young, pregnant woman who has left her prison-bound boyfriend. Tiffany needs more songs like this one -- songs that stand out and allow her voice to flow alongside the music rather than compete with it. With the pop comeback of the late '90s, she definitely has room for improvement, if not a full-fledged comeback.

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