Wanda Dee

The Goddess is Here

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Finally! Long after the KLF's incarnations became vapor trails in the ether, lead vocalist Wanda Dee -- a fine DJ in her own right -- issues her full-length debut. The advance single, "Love Like Mine," was merely a hint of things to come: steamy, overdriven, beat-conscious urban R&B, with Dee's vocals soaring into the groove all the way through the ├╝ber-bridge into dance-pop Valhalla. Dee and her husband and business partner, Eric Floyd, co-produced the album with Giuseppe D.; it's a solid Top 40/dance set featuring 17 tracks with a one-track bonus CD. The big surprises are in Dee's collaborators on The Goddess Is Here: Freda Payne, Doug E. Fresh, Ashford & Simpson, Loleatta Holloway, D'Atra Hicks, Carol Douglas, and others. It kicks into high gear with the title track and "I Can't Stop (Feeling Fine)," complete with a KLF sample from "What Time Is Love." Moving through, funk and house-drenched soul inform "I Found Myself in You" and the solid Giorgio Moroder-styled disco of "Passion Overload," and even a killer, dubby, nearly gothically funky version of "Slave to the Rhythm." The Afro-Cuban atmospherics of "Clave, Conga, Bongo y Timbal" are a change-up. This is deep, backbone-slipping Latin funk with all the highly stylized theatrical passion in excess. What becomes obvious by this track -- and is evidenced further with each successive cut -- is how ambitious Dee is. She believes in herself, to be sure; she thinks she can do it all, and she may be right. The production is slicker than slick, with rhythm tracks that create just enough of an edge to keep it all radio-friendly, while not giving any of it street cred. The sultry "Close Your Eyes," with its lovely call-and-response chorus, is something Madonna would have killed to come up with on her own. The other Latin track, Lisa Mendez's "Mnustro Amor Es Real," is nearly an anthem of passion and vulnerability -- something that appears here only twice, on this track and on Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose." The vocal collaborations with Payne on "I Ain't Been Licked," D'Atra Hicks on "Interlude: Sprit Talk/Love Divine," and Holloway on "Don't Leave Me This Way" are all kept until the end of the album -- and with good reason. Before these final three tracks, the listener has already been saturated and overwhelmed with Ms. Dee's elaborate, wide-ranging talent, taste, and incredible voice to the point that it is obvious that these outings with her collaborators were done as an addendum to her album, not to prop it up. As fine as all three of these tracks are, if they were left off the set it wouldn't have suffered a bit. This is the first solid urban outing of 2003; it is by a true diva and renaissance woman who, despite her reputation as a seasoned veteran, is just beginning to show the world what she is capable of on her own.

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