PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Vivian Green: A Love Story

J.Victoria Sanders

Vivian Green

A Love Story

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2002-11-12
UK Release Date: 2003-03-31
Amazon
iTunes

Girl meets boy. Girl writes pining songs for boy, sings from her bowels about the greatness of meeting boy, goes from being Jill Scott's back-up singer and part of a blip on the musical radar screen named Younique to make her own debut. Girl creates A Love Story, leaving her audience wondering why so many love stories are predictable and uneven, how the right voice at the right time can sound so off-key. Maybe it's because singers with axes to grind aren't quite as novel as they used to be. And while Vivian Green isn't exactly the black Alanis Morrissette, she's no late '80s Whitney, either. She could benefit from a discernable identity from both the smart-ass rock chicks and the strung-out diva set. But if A Love Story is any indication, she doesn't want to be those folks. Who she truly is, as an artist, gets lost in mediocre production. But even if it's hard to know who Vivian Green is aside from her story of unrequited, down-on-her-knees saddening, love, her voice is beautiful.

Philly-native Vivian Green sounds like a chime with the wind flirting through it. With her petite stature, her hands picking up a long, beautiful black skirt on the album cover, it would seem that a combination of good looks and good material would make her a stand-out in the world of self-deprecating R&B drones like Ashanti or Sylveena Johnson. Then, two songs into what could become a decent album to at least sing along with in the shower, there's the atrocious anti-strong-black-woman song, "Superwoman", with the most annoying chorus the world has heard since "Woo-hah!"

Yes, she says, "I am human not perfection", but while music's goal is not the aspiration for the ultimate sound, it should be -- like all things in life -- that striving towards excellence that becomes a singer's trademark.

There are highlights in this tragic meeting of Chauncey Childs' trite production and Green's syrupy lyrics. The Osunlade-produced "What Is Love" is delicate and understated, a sweet rendering of the complexities and questions that arise in relationships. Moments like this song make the album worth listening to. Another "Emotional Rollercoaster", the album's first single, is an encompassing achievement for Green and offers promise for her future, if not her love life, when the production catches up with her voice and the track matches her sleepy delivery, the infectiousness translates to her complete message.

If you happen to have a bottle of strong liquor handy, "No Sittin' by the Phone" is a great song to put on. The lyrics and music would make Aretha misty-eyed with nostalgia, even if Green's delivery is more jazz than soul-wrenching.

Up-tempo is not Green's forte for a number of reasons. Mostly because her voice has more jazz in it than hip-hop, and she doesn't do well posing. As a result, songs like "Fanatic" and "Ain't Nothing But Love" may be great efforts at aural poetry but they come across as stiff and forced. Vivian Green's voice makes this journey through her heartbreak hotel worth the tour, but at the end of her girl meets boy story there's just too much left out of A Love Story to make it noteworthy.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.