Friday, 23 April 2010

Jennifer Rush - Now Is The Hour

The 49 year old 80s crossover diva Jennifer Rush is back. In Germany, and in Greece. Her impressive voice, the sound of a mouthful of tampons soaking up serious emotions, has always been a cult reputation and The Power of Love is the original once in a lifetime powerballad. On the best cuts, where the beats and tunes kick in when you just don't care less what organ she's singing through, you'll just be grateful that she is. And so her mysterious top grade cheap tricks prove a hit on new album Now Is The Hour, her first studio set in over 13 years - beat that Kate Bush. Her Octomom-identified glamour lends itself well to the thumping ethnic eurodance. Her synthetic Cher move is only 12 years too late, but game bird Rush is still keen to lick from a variety of sources including gay-dance, ethno-dance, opera-dance, rock-dance, midtempo-dance, and even ballads. After her career took a nosedive in the early 90s, so did her face, and like her face, J-Ru is giving it a lift whether it's butchered, botched or just botoxed.

A river of piano keys form a stream into Dream Awake's tempestuously insatiable craving for ravishing romance. The flickering heat sees Rush gushing about her boundaries being blurred, but I would suggest a good wax to sort that out. The disco is serious and the woman herself probably lubricated.

We have Natasha Bedinfield to blame for the Middle-Eastern flavoured Betcha Never - I'm guessing that description makes it very obvious the song sounds really lame in spite of some breathtaking toungue lashings such as 'don't hide what you feel inside'.

Lyrics of the flesh and spiritual quiverings to put Mary Kiani to shame are symptoms of a woman 'way beyond the spoken word', but Window can be summed up quite easily: forgettable, but definately defendable if the intense soundtrack of a middle-aged woman getting herself off to the Hallmark channel is something you can work with.

The juicy beats of Down On My Knees are certainly no chore, penetrating so fast you won't even feel them touch the sides. A simmering disco blisters as the poor lady is 'begging for mercy' whilst, you've guessed it, down on her knees - she has most likely still got the whole football team to get through. She talks a good game, but I do worry she will get pins and needles.

The glittery surfaces on the mid-tempo piano-rippling ballad Head Above Water is akin to Celine 'A New Day era' Dion. It turns into a mini-opera, with delicate vocoder effects. Rush pulls off the balladeer moves with strenuous skill. The rousing I Never Asked For An Angel salutes life's mistakes with some sort of self-belief, but my will is to press skip.

Second single Echoes Love is a tropical dance current with the kind of thick bassline groove reminiscent of Michelle Williams or Alexandra Burke's All Night Long. Orgasmic. She's hitting the piano keys again on I'm Not Dreaming Anymore and I'm hitting the drink.

Title track Now Is The Hour is a solemn hymn-like pledge, which would be fine in small doses if she hadn't passed through similar stunts already. There is a key change and it's almost worth it. The chugging Like I Would For You gets back to work, accelerating into a wheeping chorus that has wind blowing in her hair (probably the only body part she has that can actually move). The album's first single was the ballad Before The Dawn, which I can take or leave, but it's admittedly the best conventional torch song on offer.

Rush goes robotic on Eyes of A Woman and let's hope it has nothing to do with her top drawer. The track has more lust than Ashley Cole in a mobile phone shop. The greedy dancefloor beats of the Milftastic Just The Way are worthy of Metro's stunning performances for Anna Vissi, Cher and Lara Fabien. This would be the broad's best bet for a British comeback - seriously sensational.

Kylie cohort Steve Anderson snatches his paycheck on the after-hours ballad Ain't Loved You Long Enough, which if I am being generous would have sounded great on Minogue's abandoned after-hours ballads album if she had actually seriously planned such a career killer. I don't not like it though, and she does wail magnificently. On Still she sings as beautifully as the falling rain, but I've swallowed enough syrup here - not many albums clogged with as much ballad as this are worth the trouble, yet Rush gives it her all on all 15 tracks.

I isolate the dance tracks, ressurecting this beast back into business whilst her token melodrama on the ballads show up a diva well past her prime. Her ballads are at least gratifyingly straightforward if nothing else, although only when she threatens to compete with Celine Dion's spangly A New Day Has Come album on Head Above Water does she sound like a contender. Her campy kicks are magnified on hyper disco flashes such as Dream Awake where the music is high gloss and, as on Eyes of A Woman, sexually committed to utter trash. There is drama as well as declamation here - her concept of cheap thrills will charm the pants of anyone with Cher, Tina or Diana Ross remixes in their playlists. As far as divas who outlast their peak with unthinkably flashy and gutsy dance-orientated music, Jennifer Rush is the one to beat.

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