Renee Stahl

Hopeful Romantic

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AllMusic Review by

Singer/songwriter Renee Stahl doesn't fit neatly in any particular subgenre. Sharing some characteristics with everyone from Patty Griffin and Dar Williams to Sarah McLachlan and Beth Orton, Stahl creates an appealing, cozy style of AAA folk-pop that's conducive to lazy afternoons in suburban coffeehouses but not so vapid that it isn't suitable for any other locations. Ranging from simple, largely acoustic and folk-based tunes like "You Didn't Know" to lusher songs like the Aimee Mann-like ballad "Isn't It Easy" and the sweetly poppy, radio-friendly first single "Music 101," Hopeful Romantic is a mild but appealing set. The biggest surprise is "Adore," an electronic ballad presented in two versions, both of which recall Everything But the Girl's mid-'90s dip into downtempo club music. It's testament to Stahl's vocal skill that neither version sounds like either a sell-out attempt or a bid for credibility in a genre outside her own, but the song does rather stick out in these mellow surroundings.

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