Aleese Simmons

I Want It

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Despite an apparently very limited production budget, Simmons' debut album is a consistently pleasant listen, thanks to the singer's sprightly, muscular vocal chords and melodically buoyant, lyrically positive compositions (she penned five songs herself and co-penned the remaining numbers, with the exception of "Sweet Thing," a cover of the Rufus and Chaka Khan classic). With evidence of a strong gospel influence and a resilient, radio-friendly upper range, Simmons instills an invigorating drive into cuts like the funky "I Want to Be Your Lover" (a number nine R&B hit) and the downtempo groover "With You." But just when you think she's all about fiery belting, she exemplifies versatility in her tender, moody interpretation of "Somebody to Love Me." As far as belting is concerned, her performance of "Sweet Thing" is perhaps a bit over the top -- she's probably ambitiously trying to compare to Khan's original vocal, which basically can't be touched. But overall, she puts her energy to very good use. Her lyrics may border on childlike and cloying occasionally, but she sings them with the kind of meaning that can't be mistaken for fake.