Emilia Sosa

Rhythm of Life

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Well, you can't say that Emilia Sosa hasn't paid her dues. A native of New Orleans who grew up obsessed with music but didn't realize that it was her calling in life until after college, she teamed up with producer T.J. Rehmi to record her debut album in her hometown just before Hurricane Katrina blew in and destroyed everything she owned. She moved to Seattle to finish up the project, and to her credit, she wears her tribulations lightly -- her album isn't exactly lightweight, but it's nothing like a cry of despair, either. Lots of credit goes to Rehmi, who provides an assortment of crisp and funky beats to support Sosa's always pleasant vocals and intermittently hooky melodies. Rhythm of Life hits its peak right in the middle, with a pair of brilliantly hooky electro-pop gems: the lovely "Lost Without You" and the sharply catchy "Hypnotized." On a few songs the lyrics get a bit awkward ("Rhythm of Life") or the melody gets a bit clumsy ("Rumour of a Hooker") or both ("Burning in the Sun"), but when she settles down into a dark trip-hop groove on "Perfect Girl" she finds her balance again. (And the jungle remix of "Wondrous Skies" is loads of fun.) The missteps here are rookie mistakes, and the rest of the material shows lots of promise. Recommended.

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