Dina Carroll

The Very Best of Dina Carroll

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It's hard to believe it now, given her complete retreat back into obscurity, but in the mid-'90s Scottish soul-pop vocalist Dina Carroll was one of the biggest pop stars in the U.K. Unfortunately, due to various record company wranglings, her career has undeservedly gone the same way of fellow Brit winners Shola Ama, Des'ree, and Sonique. She hasn't really been heard in the subsequent decade at all, bar a contribution to the Bridget Jones soundtrack, and this 2001 collection, her first and only official album to compile the biggest hits from her career in the 2000s. All six singles appear from her 1993 debut So Close, whose mixture of soul-pop, power ballads, and commercial dance pop earned her comparisons with Mariah, Whitney, and Janet. The epic "Don't Be a Stranger" remains her signature tune, but the C+C Music Factory-produced "Special Kind of Love," the smooth disco-pop of debut solo hit "Ain't No Man," and the jazz-funk of "Express" proved she was more than just a big-voiced balladeer. Her 1996 sophomore album Only Human is represented by five of its 12 tracks, including her rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's theme to Sunset Boulevard, "The Perfect Year," her joint, worldbeat-inspired, highest-charting single "Escaping," and the Black Box-esque "Living for the Weekend," which pushed Carroll further into the dance diva territory she originally came from. But while sales of two million between them suggest many fans will already own most of this material, The Very Best Of does, in fact, include eight tracks that have never appeared on a Dina Carroll album before. Her collaboration with Quartz on her breakthrough cover of Carole King's "It's Too Late" will be the most familiar, but there are also late-'90s Top 20 singles "One, Two, Three" and "Without Love," both of which were scheduled to appear on her shelved third album, and two canceled singles, "Say You Love Me" and a sassy R&B reworking of Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." Elsewhere, there are two previously unreleased songs, "Good to Me," and the Ronan Keating-penned "All I Ask," and her final Top 40 single, a faithful performance of Van Morrison's "Someone Like You," all of which suggest Carroll still has much to offer. Of course, much of the material here is so quintessentially '90s that it should come with a free pair of combat trousers, but even though the more up-tempo material hasn't aged particularly well, The Very Best of Dina Carroll is still an enjoyable and welcome reminder of the career of one of Britain's forgotten pop talents.

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