Light Up, the third full-length album by Stevie Ann, is similar in style to its predecessors but has a glossier, more elaborately produced sound with the potential to propel the critically acclaimed Dutch singer/songwriter to international success. Ann's first two albums, Away from Here (2005) and Closer to the Heart (2007), were well received in the Netherlands, not only from a critical standpoint but also commercially. The former was a Top Five hit on the Dutch albums chart, where it spent 43 weeks off and on over the course of a couple years, and the latter was only slightly less successful, reaching the Top Ten. Both albums were produced by the Dutch tandem of Arno Guveau and Tren van Enckevort. In contrast, Light Up is produced by Mitchell Froom, a veteran hitmaker from the United States with a knack for working with international artists such as Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, Richard Thompson, and Elvis Costello. Froom is an ideal producer for Ann not only because of his international reputation but more importantly because his folk-pop/folk-rock style -- or as some might tag it, Americana -- is well suited to Ann, whose influences include American standard-bearers like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Carole King. The ace production of Froom on Light Up casts Ann in the mold of American contemporary country-tinged folk-pop artists like Lori McKenna, Mary Gauthier, and post-millennial-era Dixie Chicks. Though Light Up lacks the revelatory delight of Away from Here, Ann has never sounded better and more dignified than she does here, and the musical arrangements have never been so varied. Moreover, her English shows no trace of an accent and is nothing short of beautiful. As on past albums, there may not be any sure-fire pop hits, but there's a bounty of well-written songs with strong melodies, most notably "To Forget Her," "What Goes On," and "You Done Me Wrong."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier