Picks and Pans Review: Kina

updated 09/04/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/04/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kina (Dream Works)

Album of the week

There will inevitably be comparisons between Kina (full name: Kina Cosper) and Macy Gray, the critics' darling whose 1999 debut On How Life Is has gone double platinum. Both are black female artists who refuse to be ghettoized into the contemporary R&B hood. Both blend classic soul stylings with elements of rock, folk and blues, and both write their own material. Both even have a thing for funky hair coloring.

But on her self-titled debut, Kina, an alumna of the now-defunct R&B girl group Brownstone ("If You Love Me"), proves that she's got more going for her than just gray matter. In fact, she has a lot more range of expression and vocalization than her alter ego. Her voice, which at times recalls Tina Turner, soars on the forceful revenge anthem "Girl from the Gutter" and the in-your-face rocker "U Don't Know." She can also turn it down and show her sensitive side on ballads like "Have a Cry," "Give and Take" and the ethereal closer, "Still Here." With talent like this, you can expect Kina to be around for a good long while.

Bottom Line: Plenty to be keen about

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