Evelyn "Champagne" King

Girl Next Door

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King's second set for EMI boasted a noteworthy selection of snagging urban/hip-hop jams and mellow house grooves that ultimately suffered from almost zilch promotion and got lost in the hoopla of the change of decades. Catchy gems like the title track and the pulsating "Magnet" are radio-friendly in their hooks and production, and would've made strong singles. Indeed, the two singles released, "Day to Day" and "Do Right," have their strengths. The down-low funk and no-mess lyrics of "Do Right" are simply irresistible; and the quietly groovin' "Day to Day" exudes a peaceful musical vibe thoroughly enhanced by King's deep and husky vocal. But perhaps at least one more obvious single choice would've boosted sales of The Girl Next Door and prevented its follow-up album (I'll Keep a Light On) from being shelved. Besides the aforementioned uptempo selections, the set's ballads and midtempo cuts are equally commendable. The plush, breezy "Cross Your Mind" is King's strongest slow jam to date: not over-belted, just cool and understated, yet quite emotive. And her remake of the Isley Brothers' "Footsteps in the Dark" invokes reflections of Lalah Hathaway. It all adds up to one of her best albums.

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