Kate Ryan

Stronger

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The young Belgian singer Kate Ryan is being marketed as a slice of generic trance-diva cheesecake (this package contains no fewer than 12 separate photos of her in various states of undress), but she is in fact a woman of considerable talent who sings with power and authority and who writes much of her own music. As a lyricist, she's quite a bit more convincing in her native French than in English (sample couplet: "Our love was stronger than the wind of time/Could hold you longer till the day I die"), but the music itself is really quite good. At its worst ("Another Day in Paradise," "Scream and Shout"), Stronger offers blandly professional club anthems that are more or less indistinguishable from any others you're likely to hear in a European dancehall. At its best ("Start Me Up," the extended mix of her cover of Cock Robin's "Promise You Made"), it takes run-of-the-mill beats and spices them up with surprisingly elegant melodies and nicely textured arrangements. And on the two songs that she sings in French ("Libertine," "Je Lance un Appel"), everything comes together especially nicely. Recommended.

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