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Close to a Miracle

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Album Review

M People had sold millions of records around the world, including four albums that had reached the U.K. Top Ten, three of which had peaked at number two, so when the main voice and focal point of the group, Heather Small, went solo in 2000, the run of success was expected to continue seamlessly. It wasn't to be, however. As distinctive a voice as Heather Small had, it seemed it had really been all about the songs — uplifting songs with a positive message of hope for the future. While it was true that her debut solo hit, "Proud," with its tagline of "What have you done today to make you feel proud," had been a hit twice, there was nothing to follow this message, and she quickly faded from the public consciousness. So when her second solo album, Close to a Miracle, was released in the summer of 2006, most people — although recognizing that voice (if they got a chance to hear any of the tracks) — appeared to forget just how big a star Small was and consigned her to the also-ran regions. The album charted at a miserable number 57 for just one week and both the singles released to promote it, "Radio" and "Close to a Miracle," failed to register in the charts at all. That was not to say the songs on Close to a Miracle were inferior; perhaps the world was less inclined toward these messages of hope and promises of good times than it had been six years previously. Small tried hard to bring the message of positive thought, especially on the tracks "Rise Up," "Everything's Alright," and "Finally Found My Way." "Today" was reminiscent of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful, and among such love-affirming songs as "Crazy for You" and "Love Is Always There," she surprisingly recorded a cover of the Paul Simon classic "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," but even this ode to separation was made to sound like an uplifting gospel-like song with a beat and horns. The album ended with another spiritual song, "Don't Give Up on Love" — perhaps the world might be a better place if Heather Small's messages were heeded.


Born: 20 January 1965 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Heather Small, a lead vocalist born and raised in London, England, was first a member of Hot House, an R&B trio that released a pair of albums during the late '80s. When she auditioned and won the role in the group, she was still a teenager. Shortly after Hot House's breakup, she joined the Manchester-based and further house-oriented M People, who were coincidentally on the same label -- Deconstructed -- as her previous group. Though M People didn't make much of an impact in the U.S., apart from...
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Close to a Miracle, Heather Small
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