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Ultimate High

Carly Hennessy

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Album Review

Singer Carly Hennessy's debut album, produced and co-written by former New Radicals member Gregg Alexander and Daneille Brisebois, features '70s-influenced, radio-friendly power pop at its best. After the breakthrough success of Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, Alexander retreated from the spotlight, deciding instead to focus on producing, and one could view this as a follow-up, with most of the New Radicals making appearances. The teasingly heartbreaking "You'll Never Meet God (If You Break My Heart)" is especially reminiscent of the New Radicals' hit "You Get What You Give," down to the shouted count-in. Similarly, Brisebois has had her own struggles attempting a solo career, with her albums receiving critical praise while being largely ignored by the public. Her presence on Ultimate High has the feel of a big sister/mentor relationship to 17-year-old Hennessy. Hearkening back to the blue-eyed soul of Hall & Oates and '80s-era Fleetwood Mac, Ultimate High often sounds like a melding of Sarah MacLachlan vocal stylings with Todd Rundgren compositions. Not as self-consciously hip or arty as Nelly Furtado, Hennessy nonetheless stands apart from her bubblegum contemporaries with a powerful voice that owes more to Pat Benatar than Mariah Carey. Never one to shy away from provocative jibes — check out the rant at the end of "You Get What You Give" — Alexander even has Hennessy giggly cooing the Britney Spears-targeted missive, "Hit me baby one more time," during the chorus of "Boy I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind." The Alexander/Brisebois-penned songs are mature, cheeky, and memorable nuggets that perfectly showcase Hennessy's flirty vocals. This is the kind of producer/songwriter meets ingenue relationship that thrived at the Brill Building during the '60s, and is a welcome development. A native of Ireland, Hennessy is also credited with a few songs which fare equally well next to her producer's compositions, proving that she's nobody's puppet. Barring the Steve Dorf-produced track "All Kinds of People" — which sounds like a warmed-over early-'90s Seal B-side — Ultimate High is a consistently brilliant album.

Customer Reviews

This Album has a low Rating because many reviewers don't understand the Rules of American Idol

First of all, the point is to review the actual album, morons. Not the singer. On that note, I am quite impressed by Carly Hennessy Smithson. She was handed absolute crap back in 2001, and her voice has produced a decent album. It's a real shame, but the constant background noise ruins the album. her natural voice is pure and perfect. Secondly, SHE DID NOT CHEAT. NOR DOES SHE DESERVE TO GET KICKED OFF. Have you people even read the rules of American Idol? Contestants are ALLOWED to have albums produced in the past as long as they are not currently signed with anyone. Many contestants, including winners, have produced albums before American Idol. The purpose of AI is to search for fresh new talent. What is Carly? Fresh, new (a new start), and certainly one of the most talented on the show. She is the perfect person for America Idol. And she's Irish. That means she's automatically great.

Underrated star.

Carly is an artist that never made it big time, but she's got a big voice and slides on the fringe of the early rock/pop sound of this decade. She reminds me of Amanda Marshall, a poppier Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and Kelly Clarkson. Ultimate High has a great mix of different sounds, from soulful ballads to near-techno dance songs, to pure pop to rock. 1. Beautiful you - Mid tempo pop song, 9/10 2. I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind - Also mid tempo - 7/10 3. Surface Wound - the slowest song on the album, somewhat soulful, but a little too slow for my tastes. 3/10 4. You'LL never Meet God - mid tempo pop song, with a little swing thrown in 6/10 5. No One's Safe From Goodbye - Pop ballad, but it gets strong through the end. One of two of her strongest song vocally. 8/10 6. Young Love - The fast rock song. 10/10 7. I Need A Little Love - Another ballad, this time more rock than pop. The other of the two songs that really shows off her vocals. 9/10 8. Get You Off - Closest to dance you get on this album, it's pretty fast paced. 7/10 9. Rip In heaven - another soulful ballad, more poppier than Surface Wound 5/10 10. All Kinds Of People - kind of hard to classify. Not really rock, pop or soul, but a mix of all three. Very up tempo. 7/10 11. Just Missed The Train - Another ballad, very pop, this is the power ballad of the album, even more than the others. This is the song Kelly Clarkson remade for her "Thankful" CD. 10/10 12. What I've Found - an acoustic ballad, more soft rock than pop. 7/10. Total score 7.3 out of 10. If I had to suggest 3 or 4 songs, obviously I'd go for Young Love, Beautiful you, Just Missed The Train, and I Need A Little Love.

Very good Cd

Lets be realistic, I don't think any of the finalists just learned how to sing last week, many have been pursuing a career. So what if she had a release that didn't pan out when she was 17. I commend her for her determination.

Biography

Genre: Pop/Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Irish singer Carly Hennessy, despite having slowly and steadily building a resume that included modeling and acting, became a cautionary tale when she entered the highly competitive teen pop market. Born in Dublin, Hennessy, whose mother was a known fashion model in Ireland, was appearing in print ads as a young child. Her family briefly relocated to South Africa, but upon their return to Dublin, Hennessey chose to pursue more artistic endeavors. At the age of nine, she beat out a large number of...
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Ultimate High, Carly Hennessy
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