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I have recently fallen in love with Robyn's current electro-hit Dancing On My Own. I wasn't particularly enamoured by her last set of music. On downloading the new single, I came across this earlier album from the strange Swedish songstress. On first listen, it could not be further from the Robyn that now braces the chart on a rather more regular basis. The album was originally recorded more than a decade ago. Who'd have known that she was releasing music that long ago and we've only just cottoned on to her quirky material now.
This slightly country tinged song opens the album, and is a far cry from the Robyn that we now know. It's rather less sophisticated than what we're used to, although the incessant "yeah-eah-eah"'s are quite infectious. The broken beats in the background aren't entirely friendly on the ear, and sounds similar to somebody shaking a pair of marraca's in your face.
2. My Only Reason
This R'n'b flavoured ballad is a touch generic, and the backing vocals in the chorus drown out her surprisingly pleasant voice. The verse's are well structured though, and her vocal's shine through on this one. Already, I'm kinda looking for something that'll make me want to tap my toes though.
3. Underneath The Heart
This piano laden track is rather more sophisticated than previous numbers. Robyn's voice is much gentler on this song, and references to satellites in space make it feel rather more other-wordly. It's a tad too drab for repeat listens though.
Opening with a weird wires-fusing intro, this one fails to come to life for quite a while. The fusing sound carries on as the song starts, and just becomes irritating. If you are patient though, a nice mid paced beat kicks in at approximately 1 minute 40 seconds, and makes way for lyrics that have a nice vibe to them.
5. My Truth
Title track My Truth returns the album to generic R'n'b sounds. It's difficult to say what the influence would be on these tracks as they are more than a decade old. It sounds like something that Jennifer Lopez might have tacked on to her albums though. The lyrics are dreadful, referring to religion and Robyn's truth in a rather trivial way.
6. Main Thing
This sounds like an early 90's soul song that might have been remixed for a clubbier environment. I like Robyn's voice on this one, it's quite sassy. The song has some nice harmonies, and an enjoyable chorus.
7. Healthy Love
This song is also credited to a singer named Cindy. I have no idea who she is, but her contribution just sounds weird. The song itself is quite sparse considering it's boasting two female singers. Credit to Robyn for experimenting with her songs, but it's really not very good.
8. Monday Morning
This song starts out with an acoustic guitar backing that makes it sound like it has been recorded in Radio 1's Live Lounge. The pace is a bit all over the place on it, and the chorus doesn't really go anywhere. It is pleasant enough though, as Robyn begs to be loved on a Monday Morning. Some of her vocal flaws have been left to settle on this one though.
9. Giving You Back
I really like this one. It sounds like rain is falling as it starts, and then the tingling of piano key's kick in to reveal a revealing ballad that might fit nicely on a Whitney Houston album. Robyn muses about how things might have turned out in an alternative time and place. If only, eh?
10. 88 Days
An odd period of time to entitle a song. Dramatic swirls and drumbeats back up this return to American-flavoured pop. Plenty of attitude and backing vocals manage to save it from becoming another generic faceless number.
11. Long Gone
More acoustic guitars and a light drum beat back up this mid-tempo number that reminds me slightly of En Vogue's early material. The lyrics are very good though. Vocally, its also one of the best tracks on the album.
12. Not On The Inside
The fastest song on the album comes late at track 12. It's not exactly electro-Robyn that we all know, but it is the closest you'll find on this CD. "I struggle with the fact that he's become what he says he'd never be" she reveals. An interesting perception to make on this song.
13. Universal Woman
"She needs a place to rest her broken soul" warbles Robyn in this lifeless finish to the album. By this point, I had become slightly bored. I'm a bit of a pop music fan, and when a pop star veers away from what I know, I can become disinterested. In fairness, this is Robyn's second album, so she's obviously gone the other way.
The album is well written, and lyrically attributes all the material to Robyn herself. Lyrically, it is revealing and insightful, and incredibly mature from an artist who was only 19 at the time of writing the material. Frankly, though, it made me long for the disco fantasy of her latest single. For fans of lower tempo insightful pop though, this might be a treat. It's certainly worth a listen for good vocals, some nice melodies, and a look into the world of a younger Robyn.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 My Only Reason
3 Underneath the Heart
5 My Truth
6 Main Thing
7 Healthy Love - Robyn, Robyn
8 Monday Morning
9 Giving You Back
10 88 Days
11 Long Gone
12 Not on the Inside
13 Universal Woman