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IMOGEN HEAP - SPEAK FOR YOURSELF - SONY/BMG
Record Rating: ***

IMOGEN HEAP - SPEAK FOR YOURSELF She may have missed out recently on the trophy for Best New Artist at the 2007 Grammy awards, but these days, Imogen Heap is well on her way to superstardom. Her 1998 debut album i Megaphone made her an instant stand-out as an artist to watch, and in 2001 she formed with Guy Sigsworth (one of the producers of i Megaphone) arty pop group Frou Frou. The result was the critically acclaimed release Details, which sadly failed to break into the Top 40 on the UK charts.

After Frou Frou were dumped by their label, she made a decision to release an album on her own in the UK, and the result is the multi-platinum selling Speak For Yourself, which Heap produced, wrote and even designed the inlay by herself. A star on the underground pop scene for years, all it took was this albumís first single Hide and Seek to be featured in the season finale of The OC for the rest of the world to catch up.

Upon first listen, none of the 12 songs announce themselves, yet it all sticks together seamlessly. Cuts like Just For Now and I Am In Love With You are unusually intimate, Heapís voice is miked very closely, and with the dense layers of vocals surrounding her, it often sounds as if youíre listening to the album from inside her larynx. As on the earlier Frou Frou release, she finds new ways of expressing timeworn emotions like love, lust, and yearning, on fragile and weightless songs like The Walk, but it pales in comparison to her previous singles like Breathe In.

The musical heir to Sarah Mclachlan ~ for she possesses the formerís flawless, trill-running vocal skills and quiet-storm sensibility ~ itís disappointing that she hardly tries to use her voice on Speak For Yourself. Sheís definitely an artist to watch out for.

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