Today, to really stand out in the crowd musically, it comes down to these things:
- An outstanding voice (Esthero, Amiel Larrieux, Sarah MacLaughlan)
- A unique sound and/or great production (like Nelly Furtado, Olive, DJ Rap)
- Overall great package (Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, Limp Bizkit).
Brooke Allison has a great voice and a lot of money and names behind her. Like Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, a lot of backing can take just a voice a long way.
I received Brooke’s CD and press kit via FedEx (I didn’t ask for this particular CD or for it to be rushed—interesting) and am astonished by the package itself. A glossy presentation folder with a full colour photo on the front and testimonials from other singers on the inside back cover.
“Brooke Allison is an extraordinary talent who has been touched by God.”—Michael Jackson
“Brooke Allison is one of the music industry’s brightest new stars.”—Michael Bolton
“Brooke Allison has a big powerful voice, incredible range, with soulful delivery.”—Mya
It’s interesting the range of people here that are quoted. Legend (for too many reasons, mostly odd though) Michael Jackson, a big name in order to lend credibility. Mya, I’m sure was sought out to give it an R&B-type flava, which I assure you, it has none, although the press materials will tell you differently.
But Michael Bolton? Is this so the average 30-55 year old will go out and buy Brooke’s CD? I know the guy sells a lot of CDs, but I think someone like P. Diddy or even David Foster, the man behind Sugar Jones would be more appropriate.
The 8 x 10 headshot reveals Brooke to be outstandingly pretty but they have put her in country braids and her chin is tilted off to the side, so I get a very pop-country vibe off the shot. Hmmm. Onto the “bio” . . .
She’s from Texas, so that might explain the country vibe, but here’s a unique twist - she was discovered on the Internet. It’s amazing to think that there are a million singers/songwriters/bands out there making demo tapes, truckin’ into the labels, trying to make it. Imagine just posting it on your website and then a rep of a major label emails you (this is sooo millennium, isn’t it?) to try and sign you.
The other thing that has the marketing people going crazy is in her hit song, “The Kiss Off (Goodbye)”; she uses the “Goodbye” found on America Online. On the use of it in her song, she says, “I love it because I’m a total AOL and Internet freak. It’s really unique and special, and has a great hook.” O-kaay, maybe it’s a kid thing.
And now the album:
This too, may be a kid thing. While I can’t get over Brooke’s voice, I find the tinny, metallic instruments overpowering and taking away from her talent—her pipes. Very similar to Christina Aguilera, she has a deep, full voice that she takes to little-girl peaks way too often. However, I see what they are doing. They are making her teenager-friendly, and that she most definitely is: She’s pretty, talks about boys, love and what goes down in a typical Brooke-like day. And for a first album, that’s okay. I just hope that her second CD has more depth and she (or her record company) has more confidence in her being able to draw in an audience on her own merit without the AOL voice, the not-quite-electronic beats (think Aaron Carter’s latest or the wah-wah technique that Cher used once and is now in every other pop song on the radio), those “interludes” where you hear snippets of a conversation for a number of seconds (“Oh-Mawh-Gawd, did you see Trevor today?” type-of-thing) and the extremely eighties keyboards.
Robert Palmer (“Simply Irresistible”) has a huge involvement with this project and it’s his ability to create catchy, pop songs that move the CD along. Mya wrote “Perfect Chemistry”, which is the best song on all counts—production, lyrics, groove, the whole thing. “Thought You Might Wanna Know” is catchy and has a great beat - I can see both this and “Perfect Chemistry” getting remixed for clubs. “Maybe Tonight” is a slow song and it finally gives the listener a chance to hear Brooke stripped down.
I see Brooke going down the path of Lara Fabian—strong-voiced singer who has a hit, “Love Again”, which shows the range of her voice, then gets remixed into a dance single that re-launches the song and CD all over again. Now Lara can do both—the serious, vocally difficult stuff and still be a favourite among dance-crazed teenagers. A girl for all seasons. Just give Brooke another season, another CD and a chance to really show off her pipes and this will happen for her too.
// Notes from the Road
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