Cherie

Cherie

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Cherie first made a splash as the featured star of a July 2003 New Yorker profile of Atlantic Records A&R executive/record producer Jason Flom, who was convinced that the French teenager was the next international superstar, the next Celine Dion, the next Faith Hill. After that article, all was quiet on the Cherie front for about a half-year, until her first single, "I'm Ready" (then titled "Ready"), appeared on the soundtrack of the Lindsay Lohan comedy Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen in early 2004, and it was another half-year until her anticipated eponymous debut finally was released in August. Clearly, Flom and his colleagues at Lava/Atlantic took their time crafting Cherie's debut, making sure that every song was perfectly chosen, every arrangement was flawless, every note was immaculate. That's both a blessing and a curse for the album, since it is an expertly constructed and recorded album, but one that plays it a little too safe. While it's admirable that Cherie and her producers have chosen to bypass teen pop in favor of the middle of the road, it means that the songs aren't as flashy or hooky as much of the mainstream pop of the mid-2000s. In fact, the songs and the arrangements appear to be vehicles for her voice, which is admittedly very impressive. Unlike most post-Whitney and Mariah divas, Cherie doesn't strain for high notes, nor does she wallow in vocal pyrotechnics; she sings confidently and strongly, never belting out glory notes unnecessarily, which makes the times that she does hit the high notes all the more powerful. Skillful as she is, she's still developing her persona as a singer, and the blandly professional songwriting, as pleasant as it is, doesn't give her the opportunity to develop her own personality on record. Still, this has to qualify as a promising debut, since there are few mainstream adult contemporary pop albums as benignly enjoyable as this in 2004, and Cherie, if not an undeniable star, is a powerful singer who is a pleasure to hear. Hopefully, the next time out, she'll have a record that's a little looser, one that's not overthought and overplanned, one that makes good on her potential.

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