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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Taking a trip to “The Other Side”

Do you ever have “Ally McBeal” days? I know I do. Just this past Friday I was down in the dumps. My boss thoroughly embarrassed me in front of my work-crush by calling me out on the number of trips I made to the men’s room in one hour. Is seven really that many? I was so nervous working next to my crush that I hardly had any bladder control at all! After walking back to my apartment at the end of the day in the soaking rain, I arrived home to my poor starving cat. I fed her, took a hot shower, made myself some chai, grabbed a Hershey bar, sat down on my couch, grabbed my journal, and put on Anya Singleton’s new debut album The Other Side (Hybrid Music Productions), released this past August.

Anya Singleton has a bold, rough voice that aims to hit Aretha Franklin, but lands somewhere around Tori Amos or Aimee Mann. Most of the tracks have a feeling of being valiant, irked, or nostalgic. The album spans several subdivisions of the pop genre, with everything from bossa-nova drums (“Farewell”) to 1970’s Stevie Wonder bass lines (“Nevermore”) to Beatles-esque backwards guitar. All these features make it a fun pop album to listen to.

If you’re looking for emotional depth, however, this Anya Singleton is no Leonard Cohen. The Other Side matches up well on the depth scale with the romantic-comedy film Love Actually. It’s kind of warm and cozy, but definitely doesn’t have a strong foundation in reality.

I get the feeling that Anya Singleton didn’t have a very large role in the making of The Other Side beyond supplying the vocals. She co-wrote every song on the album with two other people (Michael Aarons and Antoan Salih Towe). Also, the number of different styles points to producer Rob Arthur playing a big role in deciding the album’s direction. It seems, because of this, that Singleton’s tools for expressing her emotion boil down to just her vocals. Because of the large role that Singleton’s voice has to fill, anything except Aretha Franklin or even Janis Joplin would, and does, leave the listener a little disappointed.

Overall I give this album three out of five stars. It’s fun to listen to and is strangely comforting, but it doesn’t have enough emotional depth or expressiveness to warrant significant listening time. It’s perfectly suited to be on a David E. Kelley show, but you won’t find it as a recurring album on my iPod-except on those rainy days.