Karyn White

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

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After Karyn White released Make Him Do Right in 1994, she left the music industry to raise her daughter and got involved with real estate and interior design. Nearly two decades later, she felt the time was right to return with her fourth album. Just as the singer's previous albums were driven by writing and production duos --- L.A. Reid and Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis -- Carpe Diem sees her collaborating with Derek "D.O.A." Allen and Bobby G., two pros who backed her on the tour for her self-titled debut. White's voice isn't as smooth as it once was, and there's some strain, but it's more womanly, which suits the songs that relate wisdom and experience. The highlights are either ballads or midtempo numbers: the positive and empowering "Sista Sista," the cathartic "Unbreakable," and the silky and stimulating "Sooo Weak," which deserves regular rotation on adult-oriented R&B stations. "Dance Floor" and "This Hot," two club-aimed songs, are a poor match; heavy vocal effects, phrases like "up in the club," and a guest rap verse -- one with a "shorty" reference, at that -- don't sound right on a Karyn White album. Even with its faults, Carpe Diem is a pleasant surprise that, for the most part, should be enjoyed by fans who don't expect anything as momentous as "Superwoman" or "Romantic."

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