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CD Review: Jade - Banned in America
By Jon Stewart - 10/23/2006 - 06:14 PM EDT

Artist: Jade
Album: Banned in America
CD Review: Jade has a pitch-perfect pop voice, great for dance music or the type of song that would fill a movie such as “Lord of the Rings” with its soulful undertones and clarity. She revels in the distinctions, crafting her style without the pompousness of many singers. Jade allows the subject matter, music and rhythm to build her emotional punch. With a carefully nuanced plunge, she largely succeeds with this album.

All eleven tracks resonate with her selection of style. The first track, “Kiss Me”, is a rocker with great lyrics, adopting an interpretation you wouldn’t expect from a Chinese-born, Vancouver-based actress, singer and songwriter. “Victim of Love” sounds completely Top 40 about a love gone wrong; “Lay Me Down” is a weaker effort that goes to a hook that doesn’t work; “Three Blind Mice” on a certain level sounds silly and contrived but a further examination finds it to be a topnotch dance number with a hot electronica opening and a weird vocal treatment that captures the essence of the dance floor. It may be the best song on the CD because of the guitar and drumbeat that never stops.

An uncommonly beautiful woman, her exotic air is highly suited to the pop world where looks and backup dancers seem to be enough for many of her competitors. “Throw Me a Line” is so romantic it should sell the album by itself. It works as a dance song; the “misplayed” piano makes the song so real it is overwhelming in its emotional expression. The incongruence is so rarely attempted in pop today that it makes the song stand out in its musical daring.

“My Love is Black” starts as a plaintive wail but cranks at the one minute mark. Lyrically, the song sorts through the colors that describe her love. This is tried often but doesn’t usually get a treatment that elevates it to a potential James Bond theme song.

“Butterfly” presents her Chinese influences and is a beautiful effort that made me want to listen over and over to its haunting vocals and unusual instrumentation. The second best song on the CD.

The next song, “I am Alive”, builds and builds to an affecting climax, “Please Don’t” doesn’t quite get there and the last song “Touch Me” lacks the emotional punch I had come to expect in her efforts. Overall, quite an accomplishment for this seductress.

Grade: B+

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