Kaya Stewart

Kaya Stewart

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Kaya Stewart Review

by Matt Collar

The full-length debut album from Kaya Stewart showcases the Los Angeles-based singer's swaggering vocal style and stylish, sophisticated take on adult contemporary pop. Though only 16 years old, Stewart has a big, soulful voice that can be delicately pretty one minute and rife with a throaty rock grit the next. Working with in-demand producer RedOne (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj), as well as her father, Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, Stewart takes a down-the-middle approach on her debut, delivering songs that straddle the line between driving guitar pop, sultry R&B, and infectious electronic dance pop. It's an unabashedly radio-ready combination that brings to mind similarly inclined productions from the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Ellie Goulding, and P!nk. Based on the catchy, slightly cheeky lead-off single "Sleepover," one might expect an album of Avril Lavigne-style pop-punk. While there is a bit of that energy underpinning the album, Stewart primarily leans toward slick, pop-oriented productions that highlight her bold, highly resonant vocals. Cuts like the sexy "Need U2B Mine," the gospel-tinged "With Your Love," and the hip-hop-infused "16 Dollars," featuring rapper Brooke Candy, bring to mind the girl group R&B of Destiny's Child. Similarly, tracks like the pulsing, synth-heavy "Jonah" and the funky "In Love with a Boy" find Stewart splitting the difference between the '80s-style synth-pop of La Roux and the confidant '90s R&B of Toni Braxton. Elsewhere, Stewart delves into '60s-influenced pop balladry on "Everything I Do Is Wrong," and swings for the fences on the Celine Dion-esque power ballad "Gold Digger." One gets the sense that being so young, Stewart is still working through her influences and figuring out where she fits in the pop landscape. There's no escaping the fact that her debut is a big, commercial pop production. Thankfully, she's got the vocal chops and youthful enthusiasm to not only embrace the process, but bring the audience along with her.

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