Album: Anastacia, Heavy Rotation (Mercury)
Anastacia is an oddity among divas, beloved around the world except in her native America.
Heavy Rotation's self-titled 2004 predecessor notched up about 10 million sales despite not even getting released in America. That featured the gutsy singer moving towards a heavier, rock-oriented sound, now abandoned in favour of a more routine R&B approach.
Lead-off single "I Can Feel You" sets the formula, its burbling clavinet intro leading into a stomp-beat chunky enough to carry her powerful voice. She does the routine soul-diva thing – the piano-based plodder "Defeated" – as well as anyone, and "Neva Gonna Love Again" is an over-egged pomp-soul ballad – but it's when she stretches in other directions that Anastacia's abilities serve her best. On "Same Song", she essays a shrewd simulacrum of Amy Winehouse's predatory man-eater manner, and on "Absolutely Positively", a reasonable pastiche of Chaka Khan's funky early style.
The punchy, Rodney Jerkins-produced title track is a floor-filling assertiveness anthem in the vein of "I Will Survive"; so, too, is "The Way I See It", whose bumptious musical style reinforces the chippy tone of the lyrics: "You're trippin' if you're thinkin' I ain't gonna speak my mind/ Well pardon me for livin', expressin' my opinion".
Pick of the album: 'Absolutely Positively', 'Heavy Rotation', 'Same Song', 'The Way I See It'