In 2000, Philippine female singer Mari released Mari. Mari possesses a striking, soulful voice, and puts much passion into her performances, and often injects passionate, soulful embellishments. The album contains 14 songs, 13 of which are ballads, which doesn't make for much diversity. "Believe Me" opens on an instrumental introduction similar to that heard in Britney Spears' "Sometimes," and the song's melody can be considered a rewrite of "Sometimes." Nonetheless, the tune is catchy and Mari handles this pop-soul song well. She also shines on "Ayoko Mang Saktan" (I Don't Want to Hurt Someone), which has the tone and musicality of Mariah Carey's "Butterfly." Mari injects soulful embellishments and vocal intonations à la Carey, and fluidly ventures into the high register at times to do this. The album contains a remake of Elton John's "Skyline Pigeon," still a very popular song in the Philippines. Mari injects her own musical personality here, often hitting impressive "blue notes" as well as embellishing the melody in a passionate, soulful manner. Indeed, she makes the song sound like a soul performance instead of its original pop ballad style. The Philippine-composed original material is substantive, and ballads such as "Make Every Wonder," "Sa Isang Sulat Lang" (In Just One Letter), and "Goodbye's Not Forever" are nicely written and nicely performed. Still, there are too many ballads -- 13 out of 14 songs -- which tends to make the album sound monotonous at times, and the album sorely needs more upbeat numbers. Nonetheless, Mari has the talent to become a major star in the Philippines.
AllMusic Review by David Gonzales