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Picks and Pans Review: Contribution

updated 02/25/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/25/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mica Paris

You are a female singer from across the Atlantic looking to break out big in America with your second album. What do you do? Shave your head?

Nah, too radical. But it couldn't hurt to stroke SinaƩd O'Connor's other talisman. That's right, you find a moody song by Prince with one of his goofy alphanumeric titles and give it a spacious arrangement.

Okay, so Paris's run through Prince's "If I Luv U 2 Nite" isn't likely to spark the attention "Nothing Compares 2 U" did for O'Connor. Paris can always rely on talent. And unheralded New York City producers Camus Celli and Andres Levin take her in a more aggressive, beat-heavy direction than that of her pop-oriented debut, So Good.

Such lively numbers as "Truth & Honesty" and the title track are especially effective in setting off her unaffected and silky voice.

Refreshingly free of bluster, Paris's singing is seductive yet not coquettish. That helps breathe new life into a jumped-up version of Smokey Robinson's "More Love," while Paris's sultrier qualities emerge on such songs as "You Can Make a Wish" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Mick Leeson and Pete Vale, the duo that produced and wrote most of Paris's first album.

Such tracks as "Just to Be with You," programmed, produced and cowritten by Curtis Mantronik, and "Take Me Away" are percussion parties, too rhythmically relentless to display Paris's voice despite their clear hokeypokey message to the limbs.

Celli and Levin's adrenalized approach keeps spilling Paris out onto an already crowded dance floor. But if the feeling and vocal shading she shows in this album are an indication, Mica (MEE-sha) can hold her own in a crowd. (Island)

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