Anastacia

Not That Kind

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As revealed in the multiple pictures in the CD package and in the video featured as part of the disc's multi-media content, Anastacia is, in appearance, yet another teen dream with cascades of blonde hair and an exposed navel (though perhaps her ever-present, and ever-changing, spectacles are supposed to signal a higher intellectual content). But her musical models aren't Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera, they are Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Martha Wash. Anastacia possesses a big, expressive alto voice that her many co-writers and producers (primarily Rik Wake [Celine Dion, Mariah Carey] and the team of ex-Color Me Badd member Sam Watters and Louis Biancaniello, though Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, authors of 'N Sync's "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You," have two tracks) use in updated R&B, dance, and funk tracks. "I'm Outta Love," which just missed topping the dance charts, is an aggressive dancefloor item, and its follow-up, the title song, is in a funk style reminiscent of Aretha Franklin's '80s work. "I Ask of You" is one of those slow, deliberate big ballads that recalls "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" as well as that song's singer, Jennifer Holliday. And so it goes. The only real misstep on the album is the inevitable Diane Warren adult contemporary romantic ballad, "Late Last Night," which forces the singer to rein in her voice, though even then she doesn't really negotiate its lyrical complexity. Despite her toothsome appearance, Anastacia may be too old school to break through in the U.S., though this album has been a commercial success overseas. (The American version has been altered from the foreign one, with a couple of tracks added and dropped.) But Macy Gray demonstrated that a broad audience may respond to an older style if the singer herself is distinguished enough. Anastacia doesn't have the kind of unique timbre that Gray does -- in fact, the minute she opens her mouth she starts reminding you of other singers, especially Aretha Franklin -- but she is clearly a big talent, and that should count for something.

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