K.J. Denhert

Girl Like Me

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In the '70s, no one did more to bridge the gap between soul and the folk-pop/folk-rock/soft rock world than Roberta Flack, who acquired a very interracial following and managed to appeal to Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan enthusiasts as well as the Joni Mitchell/Joan Baez/Judy Collins crowd. Hits like "Killing Me Softly With His Song" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" were played on R&B stations, but they also had enough of a singer/songwriter aesthetic to win over what was essentially a '70s equivalent of today's Lilith Fair audience. It isn't hard to understand why, three decades later, singer/songwriter KJ Denhert was invited to open for Flack; Girl Like Me is the perfect marriage of neo-soul and folk-rock/adult alternative sensibilities (with hints of jazz at times). Flack, in fact, is among Denhert's influences, as are Khan, Mitchell, Janis Ian, and James Taylor (Carly Simon's James Taylor, not J.T. Taylor of Kool & the Gang fame). But while Denhert has her musical points of reference, Girl Like Me demonstrates that she is a talented, expressive storyteller in her own right -- and she obviously doesn't believe in confining herself to one genre. Denhert has a lot to offer fans of Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu, but anyone who is seriously into Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin, or the Indigo Girls also needs to pay close attention to her. While Girl Like Me is dominated by Denhert's own songs, she provides a few memorable covers as well (including a slightly bossa nova-ish take on the Police's "Message in a Bottle" and an unlikely remake of the Beatles' "She Loves You"). This very promising effort demonstrates that while Denhert isn't easy to pigeonhole, she is very easy to enjoy.

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