Lucy Pearl

Lucy Pearl

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For many years, there has been a glut of slick, soulless R&B and hip-hop where talent is obscured by the canned packaging. Members of three bands who broke from that stale scene -- En Vogue, Tony! Toni! Tone!, and A Tribe Called Quest -- have formed the alter ego Lucy Pearl. With rock star makeovers gracing the cover and good press, you'd expect some crossbred, innovative results. But the new hip-hop, soul, rock, and R&B adventures are buried in the last third of the album. Until then, Dawn Robinson's rock hard vocals, Raphael Saadiq's melodic and guitar talents, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad's knack for intricate beats seem lost in a gloss of overproduction, forgettable lyrics, and cookie-cutter melodies, despite some trippy jazz beats and the witty "I Can't Stand Your Mother." The groove finally gets hot with the Chic-inspired "Don't Mess With My Man" and blasts into the scathing music biz attack "Hollywood" -- is this the real Lucy Pearl? Drawing samples from Albert Collins and Notorious B.I.G., the trio mixes up a super-loose feel, acoustic guitars, old-school machine beats, and guest raps from Snoop Dogg and Q-Tip. The inventive, witty "Lucy Pearl Tells" looks back on college and growing up in the '80s, even calling up the Alabama A&M Marching Band covering the first Lucy Pearl single "Dance Tonight."

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