Emma Bunton

A Girl Like Me

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AllMusic Review by

Emma Bunton's post-Spice Girls solo debut is the most surprising of the lot, as it moves farther afield from the bubblegummy dance-pop of her former band than Melanie C.'s Northern Star or Geri Halliwell's Schizophonic. The single "What Took You So Long?" opens the album on a gliding cushion of acoustic guitars, dreamy keyboards, and laid-back mid-tempo beats, a mix that underpins nearly the entire album. Even the assertive title track (the hook of which is a cleverly bleeped f-word in the chorus, a deliberate move away from the saccharine Baby Spice image) has the relaxed groove and organic feel of a classic early disco single instead of the canned electronic beats of Hi-NRG dance music. Bunton didn't have the best voice in the Spice Girls (that would be Melanie C., with a special nod to Geri Halliwell for getting by on loudmouthed brassiness), but unlike Victoria Beckham and Mel B, she can genuinely sing, albeit sometimes with a thin reediness that's not quite enough for a song like the gospel-inflected "Sunshine on a Rainy Day." (And the cover of Edie Brickell's "What I Am" only reinforces what a lame song it is.) On the other hand, "Been There, Done That" and the slinky "We're Not Gonna Sleep Tonight" sound like the singles that should have been from the Spice Girls' disappointing last album, unapologetically catchy and well-constructed pop songs in a style that's been a part of pop music since the days of Lesley Gore or the Supremes. A Girl Like Me isn't an album for the ages, but it's better than "not bad."

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