Whispery sopranos have options. They can stand at the front of a downtempo hip-hop collective, whispering and cooing their way alongside Portishead (or, at least, what Portishead used to be). They can be disco divas. They can be ironic indie rock frontwomen. They can morph into whatever personality the music behind them requests because their voice augments the music surrounding it, rather than demanding the center of attention.
As such, it’s almost shocking that an album centered on a whispery soprano can be as disappointing as InLove’s Stories. It seems as though DJ Cam, who discovered InLove and produced this, her first solo effort, was overwhelmed by just how versatile a voice like hers can be and just started throwing darts at the wall hoping for a bull’s-eye. The worst part about this approach is that DJ Cam evokes so many artists in such vivid ways as to practically beg for unfavorable comparisons. “Rain” shares a beat with Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, though it can’t even begin to compare. The smooth jazz of “The Look of Love” tosses a clavinet into the chorus, and suddenly we wish we were listening to Stevie Wonder. InLove doesn’t have the power or confidence to make a disco tune like “Rock with You” an anthem, and the handclaps and “yeah”s of “Winter in New York” just sound silly.
InLove’s voice is fine (despite a proclivity for hard “R” sounds), but that voice is asked to do things it’s simply not ready for much of the time. As such, Stories is a frustrating, disorienting listen bound to make its listeners long for something else.