Jessa Zaragoza

Phenomenal

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In 1999, Philippine female singer Jessa Zaragoza released her second album, Phenomenal. Her first album, 1997's Just Can't Help Feelin', established Zaragoza as a major singing star. Prior to her debut, Zaragoza was known as a sexy film actress, so many were surprised that she can sing. Zaragoza wasn't given much challenging material on her debut, however, as it was dominated by easy-listening love songs, but her abundant natural talent shone through. On Phenomenal, her abilities are still very much in evidence, but, aside from one or two songs, the easy-listening material is even more bland than before. Despite that Zaragoza gives it her best shot, making gems out of cow dung isn't an option. She sings in a lower range than before on many of the songs, including the opening "Dito Sa Isang Tabi" (trans: Here in One Side), "So Blind," and "Twice Broken." Her voice is strong, though one wonders why she maintains such a low register when she has a wider range. As before, her delivery could use some smoothing in spots, but nothing can hide her talent. The album's best offering is the spirited "Nang Makapiling Ka" (trans: When I Live with You); Zaragoza comes alive here. The remake of Bread's "If" is another of the better songs, though the production is a bit sluggish. Aside from these two, Phenomenal is quite a boring album. Most likely, her label thought another easy-listening album was the safest bet. It did not sell as well as the debut.