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Jasmine Ash

Beneath the Noise

(Lip Sync; US: 14 Feb 2012; UK: Import)

Would-be pop superstar cobbles together her influences

Sometimes, all we ask of our pop chanteuses is a bit of competence—a pretty voice, a clear melody, some decent production. In all of these ways, Jasmine Ash delivers the goods. The opening burble of lead track “Cut Up” segues nicely into an uptempo, Alanis Morissette-ish almost rocker, not too far removed from “You Oughta Know” in every regard apart from, y’know, rage. Subsequent tunes channel everything from Tori Amos warblings to ‘80s synthpop to The Innocence Mission to Motown-era Jackson 5, with the standout track probably being the take-no-prisoners dancefloor stomp of “Move On.” Ash’s little-girl voice isn’t particularly powerful, but she can carry a tune, while the production (by Jacques Brautbar and Sam Farrar) is slick and lively. Depending on the listener, a record like this is either derivative and dull, or else a clever synthesis of myriad influences. Myself, I’m leaning toward derivative. It’s pretty enough, sure, but it all sounds eerily familiar.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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