Hear My Cry

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Sonique's debut album Hear My Cry may be a little too diverse for its own good; then again, it could just be a case of missed expectations. The hit single "It Feels So Good" is a dynamite dance-club item, blending straight-ahead dance with flourishes of techno and a sweet, catchy melody. It is a bright, fresh single that sets the stage for an album's worth of similar material, not just because it was the first hit, but because it kicks off the record. That's not quite what Hear My Cry delivers, however. There is quite a lot of dance here, including the terrific Thunderpuss 2000-produced "Love Is on Our Side," but it's tempered by glossy urban soul with Eurodance underpinning. It's kind of like Soul II Soul, filtered through M People and performed by a cross between Dionne Farris and Mary J. Blige, only without any sense of hip-hop. That may disappoint listeners that want more of "It Feels So Good," even if the record does serve some of that up. And since it doesn't quite follow through with its soul inclinations, it might not please most urban R&B fans either. That's not a bad thing, however, since it's refreshing to hear an album that attempts more than it achieves. Even if there are moments that don't quite work or some forgettable songs, much of it is exceptionally produced and Sonique's singing is usually compelling. For patient listeners, these things may balance out the lack of a song as exciting as "It Feels So Good."

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