Donna Lewis

In the Pink

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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien

Six years after taking a break to raise a family, Welsh singer/songwriter Donna Lewis returns from the musical wilderness aiming to shake off the albatross of her 1996 U.S./U.K. number two hit "I Love You Always Forever." Released through her own Peruzzi Music label, her fourth studio album, In the Pink, is unlikely to dislodge the albatross, as apart from the breezy, melodic love song "You to Me," there's very little in the way of instantly memorable pop hooks or radio-friendly production. That's not to say that its 11 tracks are a poor relation to her one-hit-wonder, as the follow-up to 2002's acoustic-driven Be Still (of which two songs, "Ireland" and "Pink Dress," appear here in remixed form), works far better as an ambient mood piece than a concerted effort to reconquer the charts. Packed with bubbling synths, languid beats, and warm acoustics, "Don't Ever" and "Kick Inside" are reminiscent of the ethereal chill-out of Zero 7, opening track "Ireland" is a blissful slice of shimmering, Kate Bush-esque dream pop, while the lush William Orbit-style electronica of "1000 Miles" and the spacious new age-inspired closer "Sandcastles" showcase Lewis' gorgeously understated, gentle, and whispered vocals, which make her claims of "I want to shout it out, I want to laugh out loud" on the lilting indie pop of "Shout" seem even more knowingly ironic. Co-produced with Simon Duffy and Gerry Leonard, the album is less captivating when it veers away from its mellow frame of mind, as on "Shut the Sun Out," a discordant blend of distorted vocals, crunching riffs, and electro grooves which feels totally out of place, and "Obsession," which appears to throw in everything but the kitchen sink in a messy fusion of twitchy trip-hop beats, hip-hop scratches, and '60s lounge-pop. Luckily, they're the only occasions when Lewis appears to compromise her sound for the sake of trying to keep up with her younger competition, and while In the Pink may not scale the heights of her mid-'90s heyday, it's still a subtle and charming comeback record which shows that her signature cooing is still as enchanting as ever.

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