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JANE WIEDLIN

Tangled
Rating: 4
   There's a product I saw called "Chocolate Caramel Popcorn." It boggles the mind what lengths they've gone to make the popcorn palatable. Why not just buy some Milk Duds and leave the popcorn out of it?
   That's how I feel about this album. Jane Wiedlin's voice has the approximate range and timbre of Betty Boop's, but producer Peter Collins felt it would be appropriate to smother it in layers of keyboards, guitars and backing vocals. It's a tasty sound but not one that goes with these vocals.
   Traditionally, a singer of limited vocal means gets product sold with either an eye-catching body or terrific songwriting. I've never met her, but judging from the half-naked cover photo, Jane Wiedlin is not giving Samantha Fox any competition in the Page Three Girl sweepstakes.
   Sadly, the terrific songwriting is not a factor either. There are plenty of nice-enough moments, such as the beautiful hymn-like melody in the chorus of "Guardian Angel", but each is undermined by some underwritten part of the same song, like the non-melody of the verse of "Guardian Angel." Neither are the lyrics particularly insightful. In her Go-Go days, Wiedlin was capable of putting together a some powerful feminist-conscious statements, but here she seems to be relying on a lot of love song clichés and mystical wistfulness. "Euphoria" completely misses the mark as an exploration of the events behind the fall of communism in Europe, but would work well as an anthem celebrating Orthodox Christian philosophy. Not that it does.
   It's not completely uninspired, though. "World on Fire" definitely provokes a smile, as you can hear in the vocal delivery, and "Tangled" is thoughtfully emotional, using a clever play on words as a motif.
   I'm not sure why EMI thought there would be a market for a bad singer doing underwhelming material, but you can still find this in cutout bins the world over.

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