Vivian Green

A Love Story

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In typical major-label record company fashion, what had become a welcome musical trend has quickly become a glut. The neo-soul movement spearheaded by Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill that gave birth to Jill Scott now extends to the likes of India.Arie, Nelly Furtado, and Alicia Keys, with no end in sight as A&R people beat the bushes for every young woman of color who ever listened to an Aretha Franklin record as a child and thought, "Why not me?" Columbia Records didn't have to look too hard for Vivian Green, a Philadelphia native who was singing backup for Scott, to find yet another contender. Green is a likable enough singer with the usual romantic obsessions and a sense of generalized vocal embellishment. Her lyrics betray the influence of Scott in their wordiness, though Green lacks Scott's intelligence; all she really has to talk about is her need for love and her repeated disappointments in that pursuit. A group of producers provide familiar instrumental beds to support those sentiments, nothing that hasn't been heard before. But Green is at her best on the largely acoustic "No Sittin' By the Phone," which has a jazz feel and a real sense of romantic anguish. By contrast, the gimmicky leadoff track, "Wishful Thinking" (what do you bet it's the emphasis track/single?), reveals her at her dumbest (she gets around to wishing for world peace only after first wishing for an annual Paris vacation) and the music at its most slavishly imitative of Green's many predecessors in the crowded neo-soul field. Maybe consumers are ready to accept yet another singer in this style, but even so, on her debut album, Green is far from the most compelling of the group.

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