Kim Fox

Return to Planet Earth

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Kim Fox rounds up a stellar cast of supporting players for her second album, Return to Planet Earth. The album is produced by underground pop maverick Linus of Hollywood (he also plays many instruments on the record) and features appearances by Jon Brion, Roger Manning Jr. of Jellyfish and Beck's band, Probyn Gregory of the Wondermints, Stew, and '60s pop heroine Margo Guryan. It is too bad all these talented musicians didn't come up with a more unique sounding record. The sound is stock year-2003 female singer/song-rocker stuff. It could be Michelle Branch; it could be Vanessa Carlton; it could be Sheryl Crow. Not enough of Kim Fox shows through. She has an arresting little-girl-with-guts voice and can write hooky songs; "When Love Was the Only Thing" has a lovely melody and Fox sings the heck out of it, and "Tread This World So Lightly" strips away the pop gloss and showcases Fox's ultra-personal lyrics and fragile voice with very nice results. For the most part, however, the songs rush by unnoticed on a wave of radio-friendly syrup. There are a few moments, on songs like the bubbly disco-pop tune "Baby I Want You Back" (which sounds like an American Saint Etienne) and the girl group-influenced "Lazy," when you can hear how good she could be if the music lived up to the songs and her voice. Fox shows potential on Return to Planet Earth, but she needs to add some soul and inspiration to her sound before she can escape the bonds of mediocrity.

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