Crystal Waters

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Surprise Review

by Alex Henderson

In 1991, Crystal Waters made it clear that house music could be as socially aware as rap with her wildly infectious treasure "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" -- a poigant and moving reflection on a homeless woman's struggle that makes its point without preaching. The nasal-voiced neo-disco/R&B diva doesn't have a great range, but proves that a vocalist doesn't need one in order to be expressive and convincing. While nothing else on Surprise is as outstanding as two mixes of "Gypsy Woman" -- clearly, the CD's greatest asset -- Waters has highly addictive and enjoyable house/neo-disco (neo by 1991 standards) fare in "Makin' Happy" and "Good Lovin'." Surprise's greatest weakness is an uneventful version of jazz saxophonist Wardell Gray's "Twisted." Embracing singer Annie Ross' zany lyrics to the bebop classic, Waters isn't terribly confident or assured. But in the dance and R&B realms, she showed much promise -- and lived up to it on her 1994 follow-up Storyteller.

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