The first impression newcomer Anastacia gives off is misleading. Picture this ? a trendy blonde chick dancing around in a made-for-MTV video, singing about how her man has done her wrong.

The image will fool anyone into believing that she is Sony?s next picture-perfect cardboard doll, fully equipped with a set of cut-out clothing items baring enough flesh to make virgin Britney cover her eyes.

However, under the pop fiasco and corporate fluff, this girl actually has talent.

Anastacia?s debut album, ?Not That Kind,? opens with the title track, which is by far the standout track of the album.

?Not That Kind? is a masterpiece in both arrangement and melody. This one song will restore all the hopes for pop music that you lost when conformity became the norm in mainstream culture.

The quality of this record does not end there. The springy ?Wishing Well? and the funky dance number ?I?m Outta Love? will infect you with that Saturday night fever ? the one that has been remedied nowadays by incessant bass beats which are hard to understand, unless you know a good street pharmacist.

?Love Is Alive? is a Gary Wright cover from the ?70s, except this version will send every disco heart to the dance floor.

Undoubtedly, Anastacia?s best feature is her vocal chords. Her voice has the strength of an estrogen-injected James Brown. Not surprisingly, her style sways closer to soul and R&B.

Considering that Anastacia is under the control of a corporate record company that is more interested in the bling-bling rather than substance, it is inevitable to have some ballads that are weakly written.

?Cowboys & Kisses? is as cheesy as the title sounds, while ?I Ask Of You? sounds like something you?d find under the Jessica Simpson files. Did Sony get mixed up?

The album?s better points reemerge when Anastacia sticks to what she does best ? soul-tinted pop.

?Made For Lovin? You? has a heavy Motown feel, which is the appetizer of a five-course meal of soul food. The dessert is the gospel-esque ?Same Old Story.?

Anastacia is huge in Europe. She won several awards for this album and still maintains a healthy chart life.

However, the American media?s preference for manufactured goo might stand in the way of Anastacia?s exposure to the national mainstream, which will prevent many from discovering her. But, nevertheless, she is unlikely to disappear after such an elaborate debut. The combination of lighthearted pop and an impressive vocal range makes this collection of songs fulfilling.

Anastacia?s blend of radio hits and a clear soul influence might not win her critical acclaim. However, a good beat rarely fades without recognition.

?Not That Kind? is glossy, but not blinding ? definitely an album of substance.



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