Learning From Falling

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For Learning From Falling, erstwhile background vocalist Lamya finally got a starring turn for herself, though her diverse heritage, songwriting skills, and the production expertise of Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul, Björk, All Saints) fail to produce a solid record. Few would expect anything other than perfection from a vocalist with such an impressive résumé, but Lamya also has the presence and personality of a soloist; though she often sounds similar to a lot of other female singer/songwriters of the late '90s, her songwriting is unique and impressive, while the production (most of it by Hooper) ranges from alternative dance to orchestral pop and even mainstream rock. After a regal performance on the opener ("Empires") and a solid single ("Black Mona Lisa"), though, Lamya gets caught up by too much similar material; many songs on Learning From Falling have that vaguely edgy, vaguely happy, vaguely cutesy sound often heard piping from the speakers at Wal-Mart, and soon it becomes clear she's making the same vocal choices on song after song. There are a few promising tracks here, but as soon as she (and, more importantly, her executive producers) begin focusing on what can make her sound unique instead of bankable, she'll be able to get some great, consistent work done.

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