Picks and Pans Review: Beach of the War Goddess
If you're bored with business-as-usual R&B and are ready for a challenge, spin Wheeler. On her second solo disc, the 30-year-old British singer, whose crystalline voice lifted such Soul II Soul hits as "Back to Life" and "Keep On Movin'," displays her gifts for admirable rhythmic intricacy as well as for layered harmonies and cross-cultural arrangements.
Wheeler's voice has a light girlish clarity that avoids pyrotechnics and focuses on warmth. She weaves, never seizing her songs but gently embracing them. When her material is as enjoyable as her technique, as on her jazzy and boldly original reworking of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," she is perfection. Unfortunately, Wheeler sometimes meanders melodically and seems more interested in the sound of her beautiful voice than in actually saying something. But if she wanders, at least it's down a fairly original path. (EMI)