Picks and Pans Review: Bittersweet
Blu Cantrell (Arista)
The bad news is that there is nothing on Blu Cantrell's sophomore effort that is as deliriously catchy as her 2001 breakthrough single, "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)." The good news is that overall this is a more rewarding, less uneven disc than her first, So Blu. While Cantrell still sounds (and looks) like a Faith Evans clone, this is R&B that is truly both rhythmic and bluesy. Midtempo numbers with hip-hop, reggae and Latin beats, as well as soulful slow jams, provide a suitable showcase for her gritty, gospel-infused vocals. Cantrell tackles both the bitter and sweet sides of romance on tracks such as the kiss-off ballad "Sleep in the Middle" and the joyful, bouncy "Happily Ever After." She hits up guest rappers Lil' Kim, Fat Joe and Sean Paul, but only Paul really gets busy on the dancehall-flavored "Breathe."
BOTTOM LINE: Solid if unspectacular
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