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Aaliyah

Aaliyah

Review by Gary Hill

Coming almost 5 years after her previous release, this is the third album by Aaliyah. Tragically, it will also be the last since a plane crash claimed her life this summer. The album makes a great tribute to her voice. She is strong on all the cuts, while never really over-extending herself vocally. You can look on her vocal performance here almost as a one-person Destiny's Child - and that is pretty impressive. The material ranges quite far across the spectrum, and some cuts really are ground breaking and very intriguing. The world, and the music world in particular, certainly lost a treasure in Aaliyah. I guess all we can do is listen and appreciate the gifts that she had to share in her short, but illustrious life. This album is certainly one of those shining stars of a gift.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
We Need A Resolution
Beginning with a great beat, hip hop voice over by Timbaland, the cut takes on a more modern R & B pop texture ala Destiny's Child that carries the track through. Timbaland returns late in the song for an awesome rap. The cut features some very interesting melodic textures at times.
Loose Rap
Featuring Static, this starts with a very cool, jazzy free form sort of a rap, appropriately titled. The cut has a great retro sort of texture, scat-ish at times, merged with modern stylings
Rock The Boat
Sharing both a title and main melody hook with the Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. classic, this one is a modern vocal excursion with a great groove.
More Than A Woman
With a texture that is a combination of old school funk and modern R & B groove, this one features a great vocal arrangement and is quite strong.
Never No More
This is another one that has its feet firmly in the modern while keeping at least one eye focused on a retro sort of R & B sound. It does feel a bit like Destiny's Child at times.
I Care 4 U
Written by Missy Elliot, this cut has one of the coolest arrangements and slow soulful textures on the album. This one is definitely a show stealer.
Extra Smooth
Starting with a great fun loving arrangement, after the intro the cut drops back to a solid laid back groove. This one gets a bit redundant after a time.
Read Between the Lines
Based on a Latin sort of texture, this is a good fun groove.
U Got Nerve
With a retro, rather bluesy groove, this is a cool track.
I Refuse
Coming in at nearly 6 minutes, this is the longest track on the album. After an atmospheric intro, it starts with a very unusual sounding piano and vocal melody line. The cut starts building from there, becoming quite lush and classically oriented as it carries on. This is a brilliant track, building in emotion and intensity. It is arguably the strongest piece on the CD.
It's Whatever
Atmospheric textures begin this one and the song starts in sedate tones based within that ethereal background. It is a good, slightly playful mellow number that comes across as a breath of smooth breeze after the intensity of the previous composition.
I Can Be
Beginning with piano, as the vocals begin to enter, the song starts building slowly in dramatic modes. After this intro segment, the beat cuts in and the cut becomes a killer funk laden jam. It is one of the highlights of the album.
Those Were The Days
The bass groove on this one is killer funky rhythmic style, laying down the basis for a dramatic and well-arranged slightly off kilter jam.
What If
Beginning with something that feels a lot like an electronic take of a croaking frog, this one builds on that basis with some guitar work that seems to call to mind Prince. The cut is another killer one, and difficult to describe in its uniqueness. Let's say that it is high energy and very quirky.
 
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