I really wanted to give this a highly glowing review, but...,
This review is from: Freak of Nature (Audio CD)
Ana's going to have to settle for 3 stars from me.
As a huge fan of Anastacia's first CD, Not That Kind, I was really looking forward to hearing her latest, especially after previewing the European version of One Day In Your Life many times at her official site. The great thing about Anastacia's debut was the heartfelt factor and actual sense of fun that many of the songs had. Even the arbitrary Diane Warren ballad had a sock-it-to-me punch that only "Ana" could give.
What I am hearing on "Freak of Nature" is an artist with one hand on her heart and the other scanning the Billboard Top 40 charts. Many of these songs are so slickly produced, they sound like they're about ready to fall off the CD when I play them. All the uptempo numbers sound overproduced and cloyingly garish. And the the US remix of "One Day..." does not do the song justice. Sony's efforts to market Anastacia an R&B artist here in the US (as opposed to a POP artist in the rest of the world) back fire with this mishap, which takes all the bite of the original version, leaving the arrangement a shell of it's former self. Not to mention the Faith Evans duet "Thought I Told You That" frankly sounds like something J.Lo rejected. American fans will feel particularly cheated when they find that two of the songs on this CD (Doncha Wanna and Why'd You Lie To Me) are already on the American release of "Not That Kind". Bad form, Sony.
All that said, it would not be fair to not mention the highlights. Unlike her first CD, the strength of this particular outing is in the ballads. "Overdue Goodbye" is a sweet blend of acoustic guitar and middle eastern instrunentation that compliments Ana's incredible voice. You'll Never Be Alone is a heartfelt and sincere power ballad, and Secrets frames the heartfelt lyric with a tasteful slow-jam hiphop groove. I Dreamed You is an old-school soul/jazz classic waiting to happen, and How Come the World Won't Stop is a comforting singalong groove.
What Sony should have done is taken the dance numbers from Anastacia's first CD, and the ballads from her second to give her the PERFECT intro to the American charts (it might have reduced all those one stars she's been getting here r.e. her latest CD). As it stands, if this CD should do nothing else, it should provide you with an idea of what this woman's vocals can accomplish with the right songs and producer.