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Amber
NAKED
(TOMMY BOY)

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Amber has had five #1 dance-music hits, including the torrid "Sexual," "Above the Clouds," and Love One Another." Listening to her second session, I found myself wondering why. If all of her new CD sounded as transcendently dreamy and sexual as its first two tracks, "Yes!" and the playfully light "The Need To Be Naked," then the title might prove more than tactical. But over the rest of the disc, Amber struggles to find something to say, and she has trouble saying anything with much pizzazz. When she strays from the essentials of house music and the atmospheric hi-NRG that flatters her showy bravura, she sounds weakly Madonna-like ("Youíre Sent from Heaven"), insufficiently dramatic ("Dirty Thoughts," "If There Were No Tomorrow"), needlessly Whitney-ish ("Donít Say Goodbye"), overwhelmed by sweet-meat melody ("Love on You"), or simply bland ("Heavenly Priority"). In "Anyway (Men Are from Mars)," the tabloid title and sound-bite lyrics undercut her purpose. Amberís voice, though precise, inhabits a range not deep enough for a contralto but too earthy for a soprano: the strength of her diction, however, is no advantage except when, as on "Sex & the City," "The Need To Be Naked," and the anthemic "Yes!", she stands in the pocket and hurls her brittle voice brazenly, even if safely, within the bounds of dance-music convention.

BY MICHAEL FREEDBERG

Issue Date: November 21 - 28, 2002
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