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CD REVIEW: Gabriel Rene/Aquanote - "The Pearl"
By Gian F - 12/21/2002 - 01:05 AM EST

Artist: Gabriel Rene/Aquanote
Album: "The Pearl"
CD Review: Genre: Neo Soul
Sounds Like: The best independent Neo Soul project I heard in 2002.
Technical Grade: 10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10
Commercial Value: 10
Overall Talent Level: 10
Songwriting Skills: 10
Performance Skill: 10
Best Songs: Heartbreaker, All Over You, Nowhere, True Love, One Wish, Come Around
Weakness: None
CD Review: There has been much said about the genre of "Neo Soul." Some say its 70's R&B re-heated and re-served. Others say its just contemporary adult black music with attitude. No matter how you define it, you can't deny the critical and commercial success of artists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Arie, and Musiq. Gabriel Rene of Naked Music Productions, not only has a firm grasp on Neo Soul, but on the art and science of music production as well.

While his production skills are abundant and apparent on this project, it's his talent for playing matchmaker between singer and song that make this project a success. Each singer contributes a different and necessary element that enhances and solidifies this body of work. The singers, Caitlin Cornwell, J-Soul, Lisa Shaw, Naomi Nsombi, Omega Brooks, and Zoe Ellis, offer the perfect complements to the smooth, atmospheric, and sometimes jazzy tracks that Gabriel serves up.

While all of the singers inject life and personality into these songs, it's the seasoned and sultry vocals of Zoe Ellis that help to distinguish and define this project. The songs "Heartbreaker" and "All Over You" have more commercial bite than any of the three songs that Zoe is featured on, but her vocal performances illuminate and blend naturally and tastefully like butter with syrup on Gabriel's productions - epecially on "Leave."

Lyrically speaking, the content on this album will be instantly embraced by adults who yearn for music that speaks to and reflects their life experiences. Lyrics such as..."Wish I had a way to stay cute and young...instead of working too hard getting all serious...wish I had a way to prove that love exists...wish I always felt like I had just been kissed...I wish that every Monday was Saturday...I wish I had a way to chase the blues away. Good wishes indeed.

Advice: Market and promote this!

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