Michelle Adamson - Fallen Angel

Agitato

Author: Damion
Date: Oct 13, 2005
Views: 10019
Area: Music Reviews

I must say I was really confused about how to review this. It’s too easy to make wide, cheap shots at this because most of us hate vocals in trance; but then this isn’t trance. Nor is it chillout. Okay then, let’s try and review it as an artist album. Which isn’t that easy either. I am sure though that the internet forums will be awash with generalised criticism which isn’t so much unfair, as misplaced. What we have is a series of songs all recorded with different artists, a complete mishmash in all honesty, which does little to help the flow of the album. Gouchin Out, recorded with Mad, works well, with Michelle’s voice scatting along and hence, sounding more like an instrument (think Younger Brother, where the producers cut her voice up into a series of sounds.) Bouncing Ball with Violet Vision is a bit of a sticky one. I’ve never resonated well with VV’s stuff, it seems to lack that little tweak of musical sincerity. Michelle’s voice here, as in much of the album, has that wet sexiness to it, as though the production was designed to coat your speakers with some sort of goo. And it’s the first time you notice that you can’t really tell if she’s singing *about* anything. “Bouncing like a ball / I will catch me if I fall.” Quite. Doof comes out from his musical limbo for two tracks. Tricky is a smooth, sub-heavy soulful wander and once again, that breathy vocal like a less fragile Hope Sandoval, or Dido with less range. Flutterby meanwhile is more in keeping with Doof’s last album, 130bpm and delectable, and Michelle’s singing is limited to a muted couple of lines that are morphed about; in other words, more in keeping with her pre-solo work. Feel Free with Unconscious Collective is probably the strongest tune on the album; the backing is excellent (I’d pay double to have an instrumental version) and Michelle sings a tight tune. J Viewz produces a handful of tracks that form the central bulk of the album. Move In flits between French and English, so I can’t really tell what she’s singing about. I can tell, however, that the French seems to be sung with an English accent, to my ear anyway. Which is intriguing. The tune runs like pop: a big chorus, sweeping chord changes, all four and a half minutes of it. Stranded has a backing like Madonna’s music, over which Michelle raps (seriously) before the breathy singing in the chorus: “ever been stranded? / then you know how it feels / my flight is grounded / time to kick off my heels.” Indeed. Bass Junkie sounds like It’s All A Bit Of History Repeating. The backing is interesting, with some nice guitar and cute little production tricks. And I suppose as songs go, this is probably the best on the album. Lyrics? “Girls are a drug / men can be dogs / I’ll leave the prince and go with the frogs / did I say frog I mean a real man.” And finally Weird, which is just a mess, as though Cubase crashed and they just went with it, but not before someone abhorrently rapped over the end. Stuck On You is possibly the best of J Viewz’s bunch, the production is sharp and Adamson is singing about something different to the rest of the album, and for once it seems genuine. Serial psyreviews-botherers Beat Hackers produce a track that’s slightly less irritating than their other output, over which Michelle rambles and ambles… lyrically this all seems to be about finding oneself again, an i-don’t-need-you triumph-fest, but it conveys little. In the same breath, the collaboration with Sub 6 (Seventh Son) is a reggae-house mess, reminds me of a more acidy I Turn To You by Mel C. Finally, there’s a pleasant-but-superfluous remix of I See Myself, a nice inclusion but sticks out like a sore thumb here, and again makes the whole CD seem disjointed. It’s an awkward album, and I’ll tell you for why. Lyrically, Adamson seems to be preoccupied with a shit relationship or three, and getting her life back on track again. Nothing wrong with this: Bjork for one has made a living out of it. The difference would appear to be a lack of depth to her lyrics; it’s all very sixth form. I recognise that the songwriting process is a cathartic one, that singers and lyricists have demons that need to be exorcised. However artists that have done this successfully (Beth Orton, Damien Rice, Neil Young, and back to Bjork again) create a flow throughout the whole album. It’s a process, rather than the product. While Adamson is no doubt a troubled soul, there’s something missing in all of this. Listening to Fallen Angel, you can’t help but like her as the person in the middle of all this: and I guess that managing to convey that sense of humanity is no easy task. People who diss this out of hand and say it’s a load of shit are missing the point. But what that point might be, I haven’t got a clue.



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