Picks and Pans Review: Lara Fabian

updated 07/17/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lara Fabian (Columbia)

Great as she was—and no pop singer has ever been more expressive—Edith Piaf also set unfortunate precedents. Histrionics aside, Piaf's aggressive approach to lyrics (she could sound angry at the words) influenced generations of singers, beginning with her most famous disciple, Barbra Streisand, and continuing, to a lesser degree, with Mariah Carey, Celine Dion (most egregiously) and now, to an extent, newcomer Lara Fabian.

Born in Belgium and currently living in Quebec, Fabian, 29, does indulge in some big Piaf-like singing, as well as some Madonnaesque faux cuteness. Her approach, however, is generally unaffected, with an easy lilt reminiscent of another European-born singer, Basia.

The major weakness of this album—Fabian's first in English—is the banality of its songs. Fabian, who cowrote many of them, has only herself to blame for such lyrics as "I don't know where to find you/I don't know how to reach you/I hear your voice in the wind/I feel you under my skin." Most unfortunate is "I Am Who I Am," which evokes images of Fabian ripping the tops off spinach cans. Like Basia and Dion, Fabian's English is flavored with a mild accent. If she mutes the overwrought style and finds better material, it will only charm.

Bottom Line: Welcome new import

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