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My Soul

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Album Review

Even if you didn't know that Maria hails from Denmark, her debut release contains enough clues to let you know she's "not from around here," at least as far as the rigid formats of urban music are concerned. Produced by hitmaking countrymen Soulshock and Karlin (who've worked with Monica, Whitney Houston, and Toni Braxton, among other big-name divas), the R&B on My Soul is very moody and very European, a quality that cuts both ways. On the one hand, the busy electronics and Maria's wispy vocals sometimes suggest nostalgia for late-'90s trip-hop, a predilection that can make the album sound dangerously dated. On the other, there's something appealing about the young singer's fragility; in an age where it seems almost every urban artist of the fair sex is a strong, strong woman ready to show you her ba-dum-pa-dum-dum at a moment's notice, the vulnerability and loneliness (as well as the PG-rated innuendo; "Coffee in Bed" is about as racy as this disc gets) on display here are almost refreshing. And the capper is "I Give, You Take," an ace left-field success that crystallizes Maria's outsider appeal. Something like Brandy cooing atop Coldplay's atmospherics, it's an heir to similarly adventurous singles like Dionne Farris' "I Know" and RES' "They Say Vision," which proved modern R&B females could rock out too. Whether Maria will follow those artists into (apparent) one-hit wonderdom is hard to tell, but the sound of her soul on My Soul is intriguing, at least.

My Soul, Maria
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