Amen

Amen

3.5 2
by Paula Cole
     
 

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Paula Cole is the Lilith Fair set's patron saint of honeyed talent and wise maturity. Her ability to decorate genteel music with agile, intelligent jazz-pop singing and stately, tasteful playing is her greatest strength. True to form, her third album, AMEN, will not disappoint those who loved 1997's multileveled smash "Where Have All theSee more details below

Overview

Paula Cole is the Lilith Fair set's patron saint of honeyed talent and wise maturity. Her ability to decorate genteel music with agile, intelligent jazz-pop singing and stately, tasteful playing is her greatest strength. True to form, her third album, AMEN, will not disappoint those who loved 1997's multileveled smash "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" (from THIS FIRE). It even has a brilliant first single -- "I Believe in Love" -- a masterfully funky love song, complete with violins and trilling flutes that sound like vintage Barry White. For fans of the provocative lyrics of "Cowboys," Cole still makes some grand gestures here. Fortunately, her delivery steers clear of bombast. The plea for anti-conservative common sense, "Amen," works because she's able to elicit a genuine emotion that transcends the one-dimensional nature of her song's politics. The same is true of "Be Somebody," in which Cole's vibrato flies skyward, driving home her song's prayer that it might enact real social change. Musically, AMEN's jazz-pop and blues-rock textures provide the sort of tasteful backdrop that has helped sell Cole's more mainstream contemporaries, such as Shawn Colvin. But Cole is more interested in opening up ears than wallets, as evidenced by hip-hop legend DJ Premier's expert scratching on the up-tempo "Rhythm of Life." Of course, there are moments when her sweeping lyrics might leave you wishing her subject matter could be as down to earth as her singing is angelic. But even when she acts like a hybrid of Sarah McLachlan and Mother Teresa, the pure, pointed power of her voice is a sound to behold.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Thanks to Paula Cole's appearance on the first Lilith Fair and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," This Fire didn't really take off until nearly a year after its 1996 release; plus, its closer "I Don't Want to Wait" became nearly omnipresent in 1998. So, the gap between This Fire and its sequel, Amen, didn't feel all that long, but a cursory listen to Amen reveals that Cole matured considerably during those three years. Amen is the work of a professional record-maker, someone who not only knows how to craft a song, but knows how to craft sound. It's certainly in the same vein as This Fire, yet tighter and subtler, and fits right into adult alternative pop radio circa 1999. She may tread uncomfortably close to the smooth, sweetly cloying pop of Sarah McLachlan, but Cole somehow became convinced that she was a soul singer. So, the pretty music is underpinned with light hip-hop rhythms or R&B chord progressions, while she pours out passion through her voice and lyrics. She may get carried away with self-righteous naïveté and clichéd liberal dogma, but such impassioned beliefs give Amen greater weight, grit, and character than the average adult alternative pop album. Also, she saves most of her lyrical excess through strong, assured singing that's soulful but not overdone (the exception is when she dips into rap on "Rhythm of Life," which is positively embarrassing, especially when she's supported by scratching). Despite the occasional sophomoric lyric, Cole never sounds as strident as she occasionally did on This Fire, and the entire album is clearly the work of an artist who is more assured than ever before. Musically, that results in a stronger album than its predecessor, even if it lacks singles as grabbing or memorable as "Cowboys" or "Wait."

Product Details

Release Date:
09/28/1999
Label:
Warner Bros Mod Afw
UPC:
0093624749028
catalogNumber:
47490
Rank:
145002

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Paula Cole   Primary Artist,Alto Flute,Bass Flute,Keyboards,Vocals,Multi Instruments
Kevin Barry   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Multi Instruments
DJ Premier   scratching
Susan Jolles   Harp
Greg Leisz   Pedal Steel Guitar
Tony Levin   Bass,Electric Bass,Upright Bass,Chapman Stick
Jamshied Sharifi   Synthesizer,Conductor,Alto Flute,Bass Flute,Performing Ensemble
Jay Bellerose   Drums,Multi Instruments,Finger Snapping
Alfredo Hidrovo   Bongos,Shaker
Tionne Watkins   Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Paula Cole   Arranger,Producer
Mick Guzauski   Remixing
Roger Moutenot   Engineer
Jamshied Sharifi   Arranger,String Arrangements,Harp Arrangement
Jay Bellerose   Sound Effects

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