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So Natural

Lisa Stansfield

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Album Review

After achieving minor success as the lead singer of the U.K. trio Blue Zone and providing vocals for Coldcut's dancefloor classic "People Hold On," Lisa Stansfield established herself as a solo artist with her immensely successful 1989 debut album Affection. The combination of lush, Barry White-influenced arrangements and Stansfield's soulful voice proved wildly popular, and Stansfield became one of the hottest new international artists of the late '80s. Unfortunately, Stansfield's popularity slipped a bit with the follow-up, 1991's Real Love, but the album was still a respectable seller. So Natural, from 1993, failed to reestablish Stansfield as a major commercial force, but since the album was never released in the U.S., it's easy to understand why. Though So Natural pales in comparison to Affection and even Real Love, it certainly isn't bad, and the lack of an American release remains a mystery.

Stansfield almost abandons the R&B-flavored dance-pop of her debut with So Natural. The album is definitely consistent, but the ballad-heavy approach wears thin. So Natural also lacks a surefire hit single, like Affection's "All Around the World" and "This Is the Right Time" or Real Love's "Change." But So Natural still offers many pleasant moments. The steamy ballads "Never Set Me Free" and "Be Mine" rank with Stansfield's best work, and the album does offer a couple of sunny, up-tempo numbers with "Too Much Love Makin'" and "Marvelous and Mine." So Natural does flow along quite nicely — the only real clunker here is the bland, dated-sounding synth pop throwback "Little Bit of Heaven" — but the album fails to deliver the memorable hooks of her biggest hits. Still, So Natural could have easily found an American audience, considering the success of her previous work. So Natural is only available in America as an import release. The album is certainly a worthy find for Lisa Stansfield fans willing to search the import bins. The casual fan, however, is better off with the considerably easier to find Affection or her 1997 American comeback effort, simply titled Lisa Stansfield.

Biography

Born: 11 April 1966 in Manchester, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After nearly a full decade in the music industry, singer and actor Lisa Stansfield reached the mainstream as the featured vocalist and co-songwriter on Coldcut's 1989 single "People Hold On," a number 11 pop hit in the U.K. and a number six hit on the U.S. club chart. Later that year, the solo single "All Around the World" gave Stansfield a tremendous boost by reaching number one in several countries, as well as in the U.K. From that point, throughout her distinguished — if sporadic —...
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So Natural, Lisa Stansfield
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