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Sweet Escape
     

The Sweet Escape

3.5 26
by Gwen Stefani
 

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Breaking away -- even temporarily -- from a band that's helped forge a personal identity is a tall order for any singer, but Gwen Stefani proved up to the task on her solo debut, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. And while Stefani maintains that No Doubt is still a going concern, she uses this outing

Overview

Breaking away -- even temporarily -- from a band that's helped forge a personal identity is a tall order for any singer, but Gwen Stefani proved up to the task on her solo debut, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. And while Stefani maintains that No Doubt is still a going concern, she uses this outing to further establish that she's not only comfortable but completely fearless in her solo travels. Stefani is agreeably generous with spoonfuls of sugar, sprinkling tantalizing hooks throughout the disc like fairy dust. She's not, however, averse to delivering the element of surprise -- as she proves by cleaving the booty-centric "Wind It Up" with interludes of yodeling that transport the listener to the hills occupied by The Sound of Music's Von Trapp family. Demonstrating a keen awareness that in the pop music world, producers help mold the message, Stefani surrounds herself with the cream of the knob-twiddling crop here, letting Pharrell Williams push her experimental buttons on the bracing "Breaking Up" and joining Swizz Beatz on a low-rider cruise through "Now That You Got It." The Sweet Escape isn't all rough beats and hard edges, though. Gwen's girly side shines through on an alluring group of ballads, notably "Early Winter," on which she's ably assisted by Keane keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley, and "4 in the Morning," a drift into the ether that showcases the vulnerability inherent in her voice. That combination of sugar and spice helps The Sweet Escape live up to its title -- this disc whisks the listener away on an unforgettable ride.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Awkward and alluring in equal measures, Gwen Stefani's 2004 solo debut, Love.Angel.Music.Baby., did its job: it made Gwen a bigger star on her own than she was as the lead singer of No Doubt. With that established and her long-desired wish for a baby finally fulfilled, there was no rush for Gwen to get back to her regular gig, so she made another solo album, The Sweet Escape, which expanded on what really sold her debut: her tenuous connections to Californian club culture. There was always a sense of artifice behind the turn-of-the-century makeover that brought Gwen from a ska-punk sweetheart to a dance club queen, but that doesn't mean it didn't work at least on occasion, most spectacularly so on the gloriously dumb marching-band rap of "Hollaback Girl," the Neptunes production that turned L.A.M.B. into a blockbuster. There, as on her duet with Eve on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," Gwen made the transition into a modern-day material girl with ease, but when she tried to shoehorn this ghetto-fabulous persona into her original new wave girl character, it felt forced, nowhere more so than on the Linda Perry written and produced "What You Waiting For." Gwen doesn't make that mistake again on The Sweet Escape -- by and large, she keeps these two sides of her personality separate, favoring the streets and nightclubs to the comfort of her new wave home. Just because she wants to run in the streets doesn't mean she belongs there; she continues to sound far more comfortable mining new wave pop, as only a child of the '80s could. As always, it's those celebrations of cool synths and stylish pop hooks that work the best for Stefani, whether she's approximating the chilliness of early-MTV new romantics on "Wonderful Life," mashing Prince and Madonna on "Fluorescent," or lying back on the coolly sensual "4 in the Morning." Only once on the album is she able to bring this style and popcraft to a heavy dance track, and that's on the irresistible Akon-produced title track, driven by a giddy "wee-oh!" hook and supported by a nearly anthemic summertime chorus. Tellingly, the Neptunes, the architects of her best dance cuts on L.A.M.B., did not produce this track, but they do have a huge presence on The Sweet Escape, helming five of the 12 songs, all but one being tracks that weigh down the album considerably. The exception is "U Started It," a light and nifty evocation of mid-period Prince, with its lilting melody, silken harmonies, and pizzicato strings. It sounds effortless and effervescent, two words that do not apply to their other four productions, all skeletal, rhythm-heavy tracks that fail to click. Sometimes, they're merely leaden, as on the stumbling autobiographical rap "Orange County Girl"; sometimes, they're cloying and crass, as on the rather embarrassing "Yummy"; sometimes they have an interesting idea executed poorly, as on "Breakin' Up," a breakup song built on a dying cell phone metaphor that's interesting in theory but its stuttering, static rhythms and repetitive chorus are irritating in practice. Also interesting in theory is the truly bizarre lead single, "Wind It Up," where the Neptunes force fanfares and samples from The Sound of Music's "The Lonely Goatherd" into one of their typical minimalist tracks, over which Gwen spouts off clumsy material-minded lyrics touting her fashion line and her shape. Nothing in this track really works, but it's hard not to listen to it in wonder, since its unwieldy rhythms and rhymes capture everything that's currently wrong about Stefani. From the stilted production to the fashion fetish, all the way down to her decision to rap on far too much of the album, all the dance-pop here seems like a pose, creating the impression that she's a glamour girl slumming on a weekend night -- something that her self-proclaimed Michelle Pfieffer in Scarface "coke whore" makeover showcased on the album's cover doesn't do much to dissuade. If the dance production on The Sweet Escape were better, these hipster affectations would be easier to forgive, but they're not: they're canned and bland, which only accentuates Stefani's stiffness. These misfires are so grand they overshadow the many good moments on The Sweet Escape, which are invariably those songs that stay true to her long-standing love of new wave pop (not coincidentally, these include every production from her No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal). These are the moments that give The Sweet Escape its sweetness, and while they may require a little effort to dig out, they're worth the effort, since it proves that beneath the layers of bling, Gwen remains the SoCal sweetheart that has always been as spunky and likeable as she has been sexy.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/05/2006
Label:
Interscope Records
UPC:
0602517144118
catalogNumber:
000809902
Rank:
13040

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gwen Stefani   Primary Artist
Stephen Bradley   Trumpet,Baritone
Pete Davis   Keyboards
Martin Gore   Guitar
Tony Love   Guitar
Angelo Moore   Saxophone
Gabrial McNair   Trombone,Keyboards,Baritone
Tony Kanal   Keyboards
Greg Collins   Guitar,Bass Guitar
Loren Dawson   Keyboards
Richard Hawley   Guitar
Matt Beck   Guitar
Mark Ralph   Guitar
Tim Rice-Oxley   Piano,Keyboards
Aliaune "Akon" Thiam   Keyboards
Sean Garrett   Background Vocals
Alex Dromgoole   Guitar,Bass Guitar
Giorgio Tuinfort   Keyboards
Anthony LoGerfo   Percussion
Kingston James McGregor Rossdale   Voices
Talent Bootcamp Kids   Vocals

Technical Credits

Steve Berman   Contributor
Ron Fair   Orchestra Production
Nellee Hooper   Producer,Audio Production
Kevin Mills   Engineer
Colin Mitchell   Engineer
Linda Perry   Composer
Mark "Spike" Stent   Producer
Simon Gogerly   Engineer
Martin Kierszenbaum   Contributor
Gwen Stefani   Composer
Pharrell Williams   Composer,Audio Production
Robbie Snow   Contributor
Tony Kanal   Composer,Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Gretchen Anderson   Contributor
Aidan Love   Programming
Brian Garten   Engineer
Angelo Aponte   Engineer
Neptunes   Producer,Audio Production
Swizz Beatz   Producer,Audio Production
Kathy Angstadt   Contributor
Greg Collins   Engineer,Vocal Engineer,Vocal Producer
Jolie Clemens   Art Direction
Tom Williams   Contributor
Chris Lopes   Contributor
Andrew Coleman   Engineer
Ewan Pearson   Programming
Andrew Alekel   Engineer
S. Garrett   Composer
Stephanie Johnson   Contributor
Bojan Dugich   Engineer
Kasseem Dean   Composer
Andrew Mains   Contributor
Jonathan Merritt   Engineer
Tim Rice-Oxley   Composer
Aliaune "Akon" Thiam   Composer,Programming,Producer
Ravid Yosef   Contributor
Keith Gretlein   Engineer
Sean Garrett   Producer
Dennis Dennehy   Contributor
Dyana Kass   Contributor
David Saslow   Contributor
Ryan O'Donnell   Contributor
Mark "Exit" Goodchild   Engineer
Julian Chan   Engineer
Jurgen Grebner   Contributor
Neil Kanal   Programming,Engineer
Scott Enright   Contributor
Giorgio Tuinfort   Composer,Programming,Producer
Tom Balla   Contributor
Missy Barone   Contributor
Candace Berry   Contributor
Brian Bray   Contributor
Nino Cuccinello   Contributor
Wendy Diplock   Contributor
Jordan Glickson   Contributor
Morgan Hartmann   Contributor
Kerry Hickey   Contributor
Neil Jacobson   Contributor
Garnett March   Contributor
Ginger Ramsey   Contributor
Crystal Riley   Contributor
Brenda Romano   Contributor
Tony Seyler   Contributor
Dave Tomberlin   Contributor
Vivian Tran   Contributor
David Cohen   Contributor

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Sweet Escape 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Gwen, but I hate the way she sings...or does not sing on this album. I don't like her new style. I miss her in No Doubt. L.A.M.B. was better soley because she sang.
amb_ram25 More than 1 year ago
please don't waste your money on this cd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Save your money for a root canal, its just as painfull. I dont really understand why Gwen feels the need to "rap" when she can actually sing! This is just so sad to see...and hear. I miss NoDoubt. Now that was good music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gwen was wonderful in No Doubt, she was wonderful in L.A.M.B, she not wonderful now. Her music is horrible horrible horrible. She sold herself out. Gwen please go back to No Doubt and start making excellent music again!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is really bad. Her debut album was a solid pop album with good songs. But this one is just embarassing. On some songs, Gwen is almost rapping (Yummy, Breakin' Up, Orange county girl), and she cant even rap! Shes tripping over her words and getting tounge-tied. Breakin' UP is probably the worst song on: theres no melody, the horrible "rapping", and the horrible lyrics. The only good songs are the pop-rock songs like Early winter, Wonderful life, Dont get it twisted, Now that youve got it. It's really hard to listen to the whole album because of the akward and embarrasing "rap" songs. Gwen needs to go back to No Doubt and actually write and SING great songs, not dumb little filler songs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wasnt too sure of this CD when I first listened to it but after a few plays I really love it. I dont know why the comment was made about her not singing. She sings on every song. It may be a different style of singing than you are used to but it is singing none the less. The ballads on this CD are beautiful as well. Early Winter, Florescent, 4 in the morning, and U started it are really great tracks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this CD for “wonderful life”- Martin Gore played guitar on the song, so I was curious.. I also noticed that it was used in the ad for her “L” fragrance. I love that song and the CD has several great songs on it as well. “Wind it up” would be better sans yodle, but I have gone back to songs that at first weren’t favorites but enjoyed them later. Everyone has a guilty pleasure- a CD that they love even though the critics trash it. Listen to a sample, because you might like it, or even love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gwen Stefani fits right there between Madonna and Nelly Furtado, with a style that pays tribute to the 80's. Although the songs on the "Sweet Escape" aren't spectacular, still Gwen won't have much of a problem keeping her head above water, especially with Fergie and Nelly Furtado hot on her heels. Good album, not as great as her debute solo Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Maybe that spell will be broken by the time the third album drops. It's hard to follow up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love No Doubt and when I heard Gwen's first album, I was a bit taken aback on how different she took her taste in music. So, I am not surprised that she did the same thing again with her sophomore album. I can say that it is an acquired taste to some people. She is not predictable and that's a very cool thing. She is not afraid to take music into alternative paths and create something new and refreshing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that “L.A.M.B.” was a very solid debut for Gwen, and this sophomore effort doesn't quite disappoint either. Her first solo effort seemed to be consistent and well thought out, at first listen this just seems weak and rushed in comparison. Yeah, some of the songs are cool but there are definitely more tracks on here that are skip-worthy than on her first album. “The Sweet Escape” is definitely more R&B influenced, whereas “L.A.M.B” was more Pop/Rock influenced. But despite this difference between them, both albums have that eclectic and quirky diversity that we've come to expect from Gwen. After a few listens I come to realize that she does best (solo wise) when she's doing pop songs rather than when she's Hip-Hop/R&B. To me, the moments that give The Sweet Escape its sweetness as well as being the strongest are the title track, "4 in the Morning," " Fluorescent," "U Started It" and "Wonderful "life." All of these have great choruses. But "Early Winter" is the cream of the crop here she sounds like her old self on this track making you believe that she was back with No Doubt. I also like "Yummy" due to its sexy lyrics, "Sweet Escape," "Now That You Got It," and "Don't Get It Twisted" with its techno and dancehall vibe. “The Sweet Escape,” sounds like it’s aching to grab hold of her long-standing love of new wave pop. The production of this album is pretty creative. The reason it's a 3 and not a 4 is because the songs seem to clash a bit making it sound too much alike. But regardless, this is definitely one to pick up if you're interested or enjoyed the singles off L.A.M.B.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this CD! My favorites are:Wind It Up,Sweet Escape,Wonderful Life,Don't Get It Twisted... there are so many! I loved her 1st CD Love Angel Music Baby even more!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a Gwen fan for awhile, and i can seriously say that "Wind It Up" is just an awesome song! But, that is the only song on the album that really does it for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
LAMB was somewhat embarrassing, but at least it had a couple of songs on there that were catchy enough. The lyrics were insanely bad though, and on Sweet Escape it gets no better. This album though is even worse because there is not one song on here that doesn't sound like a pure mess with no direction. I don't know what Gwen was thinking with this album overall, but it sounds awkward, shallow and immature. I was hoping, at her age, something would change. But nope, still the same woman with no change or growth at all showing on this album. If LAMB is one of your favorite albums then you'll probably enjoy this album, and that's about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great C.D that you have to BLAST in your car. gwen is so fun, so inivative that your never thinking now where have i heard this beofre. shes original and relatable. and there is just so much variety within the album that you cant help but love it. gwen is about moving forward and whats new and the sweet escape is great. i love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Omg i love this cd so much! Gwen's first cd was awesome, but it was just wild and fun. Sweet Escape is more meaningful and deep. Her vocals are amazing and the lyrics are amazing. Love love love her!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
L.A.M.B. was a great album, it was in my car CD player for quite a few months. But, Sweet Escape doesn't hold up. The songs are dull and they all sound alike. Sounds like it was pieced together and in the stores in time for the holiday shopping season! I'm a big Gwen and No Doubt fan but this is my least fave album she's done. At least I got it on sale for 9 bucks-not too much money gone. Hoping for better next time-hope she delivers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What can i say? i love gwen! i love this cd, i love love angel music baby and i love all the no doubt cds! she is great live both with no doubt and alone. This cd has not left my player for the last week and i am still groovin on it. Way to go gwen from another kid of the 80s!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love "Yummy" Gwen and Pharrell are the best together!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved her new style. I really recomend this CD to anyone. She has a great style here on this CD. The best songs were "Wind It Up" and "The Sweet Escape".
Guest More than 1 year ago
The album was overall great. I wasn't too sure about it when I first purchased it, because I heard of different opinions from different people. I listened to it on the way down to San Diego, and I fell in love with the CD. It has many up beat songs, and is similar to the first CD, but better. If you liked the first CD, you'll like this one. She does sing in the songs. There are just a few that she sing/talks in like "Wind It Up."] [Song Reviews: (Wind It Up - Good.) (The Sweet Escape - Cute song, weird noises for the "woohoo, yeeehoo.") (Orange County Girl - Alright..) (Early Winter - Great slow song.) (Now That You Got It - My favorite song. Really good upbeat song. The middle "rap" part is cute.) (4 In The Morning - Cute slow song.) (Yummy - Kinda crazy like "Wind It Up." I only like the chorus.) (Flourescent - It's alright. Kinda cute.) (Breakin' Up - LOVE IT! Listen to the lyrics, not just the chorus.) (Don't Get It Twisted - Interesting. Clown music in the background kinda. It's catchy though.) (U Started It - Adorable song! It's a slow song, but you'd love to listen to it with the radio on full blast.) (Wonderful Life - The dull song of the CD. It's a slow song, the chorus is good though.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed by her new CD. I love Gwen and I even liked her first CD, but this CD is not the same. It's one thing to have a new style, but she's sold out on this one.
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