"M.Y.O.B... Mind your own business" chant the jump-roping playground children -- complete with double-dutch sound effects -- on the title track of Deborah Gibson's seventh solo album. The music here is proof positive that Gibson is living in a self-contained fantasy world; for that reason it is a lot more intriguing than the standard pop of today. Hear the striking similarity in style between this music and Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears. Marvel at the lyrics, which are at once childish (see above-mentioned children) and provocatively adult ("Plenty of girls would crawl into your bed/are you the guy willing to get into my head"). Brace yourself for the fact that this '80s teen idol is now 30 years old and following the trends of 2000s teen idols. "What is wrong with that?" you may ask. Nothing necessarily. In fact, if anyone other than Gibson were singing this material, exactly as she sings it here, it would make the Top Ten. You get the feeling that no big label or producer wants to lay their hands on jump-starting an old career when there are so many new faces (and lesser talents) to scout. Maybe that is why Gibson has been left to her own defenses, taking on the role of self-management. There is something eerie in the way the album tries to pin different targets: children, teenagers, and adults, dividing the album into separate styles which ultimately clash. An example of that peculiarity is the remake of Tony Orlando's "Knock Three Times." Gibson says that it was one of the first songs she learned to play on the piano. It is actually sung as a duet with Tony Orlando with vocals awkwardly strung together by what could best be described as "African techno-dance stuff." The voices on the song (while in fine form) sound removed from the music, which is distant and creates an out-of-synch feel. Deborah Gibson has nothing to prove to anyone. She knows the music industry like the palm of her hand (which makes a nice debut on the CD's inner photo shoot). The album was released by Golden Egg Records, which is Gibson's own label, and the album was produced by Diane Gibson, her mother. Gibson is a true businesswoman, always eager to take on a Broadway role, a television project, or a music album. With M.Y.O.B. she has placed herself in the realm of top trends, something she has not done so perfectly for quite some time. The title track, written by the Alessi Bros., nearly hits the "Electric Youth" mark with its "run but you can't hide" message and beat. The splendid dance tunes "Your Secret" and "What You Want" are R&B spiked with top-notch choruses. "Down That Road" is a great self-penned ballad, one of her best efforts. The real surprise on the album is "Wishing You Were Here," which is a classic Debbie godsend of pop. It is as cheesy and giddy as her famous '80s music with the addition of a heavenly backup choir and penetrating chorus. Deborah Gibson, who has a superb voice throughout, sounds best when that voice is supplied with a powerful gospel choir. Nothing else on the album reaches the closeness of that wonderful "drinking lemonade on a Summer afternoon" feeling than the point between the bridge and the third chorus of "Wishing." More, please.
by Peter Fawthrop