Denise James

It's Not Enough to Love

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With her second solo album It's Not Enough to Love, Denise James comes into her own as a pop chanteuse. Borrowing the best of Petula Clark's vivaciousness and Nico's world-weariness, James nevertheless sounds uniquely herself on sweetly bouncy songs like "Hold On This Time," as well as the droning "Absolutely Sad." That the album has a just-slightly updated-'60s sound doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering that her debut album leaned that way, and that It's Not Enough to Love features the involvement of retro-influenced sonic masterminds Jim Diamond, who engineered the album, and Matthew Smith, who produced it. Smith also produced James' self-titled debut, but this collaboration is more fully realized; James and Smith's voices and musical ideas are so similar here that when he contributes backing vocals on "Come Home to Me," they almost sound like male and female versions of the same person. And as well-done as Denise James' flights of fancy were, the more unified sound that James presents here really pays off, creating a beautifully hazy atmosphere that peaks on jangly ballads like "Love Has Got Me Crying Again" and "Your Every Word," and the softer-than-soft "Don't Let Her Go This Time." Meanwhile, the instrumental "Just Like That" shows off James' guitar prowess, as well as her stint with Warren Defever's Dirt Eaters did. At ten-tracks long, It's Not Enough to Love is somewhat on the short side, but that just leaves listeners wanting more of James' honeyed voice and smart songwriting.

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