V.V. Brown comes stateside

In a world of meticulously planned and perfected pop stars, V.V. Brown comes from an old angle but with a new slant.

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

In a world of meticulously planned and perfected pop stars, V.V. Brown comes from an old angle but with a new slant.

Brown, whose real name is Vanessa Brown, already had a deal lined up with a major American label, but the contract fell through the cracks leaving her without a label and no way to get her sound out.

So like most struggling singer songwriters, Brown took up to writing songs for other musicians, such as Pussycat Dolls and Sugababes. Both groups are heavy on the pop and short on the substance.

Fast forward, Brown has reinvented herself. Frolicking through a variety of influences, Brown’s debut album “Travelling Like the Light,” is accessible, caffeinated and stylistically near perfection, however; just because an album is almost stylistically perfect doesn’t it mean its substance is in the same category.

That’s been a major complaint from various music magazines such as British magazine NME (New Music Express) which claims Brown is all style and no substance. A fair argument, but then again when did pop music ever cater to thoughtful introspection?

While, Brown’s pompadour is higher than most, “Travelling Like the Light” suffers momentarily from a lack of tangible emotion.

On the flagship single “Shark in the Water,” Brown bemoans an ex-boyfriend that the bulk of the album is about. The single is catchy, upbeat and perfect for a debut single. In comparison to the entirety of the album, it’s tamer.

“Quick Fix” with its jumping rockabilly stance, starts the album and gives listeners an introduction to Brown’s zany world. From that point on, the majority of “Travelling Like the Light” falls into chunks of different retro outfits.

The Shangri-las, Ronettes, Elvis Presley and a host of others can be heard through the short but compact album. Each song has the potential to be a single.

Sometimes Brown does dip into the pool of substance, on the synthy, very Euro-pop “Everybody,” which Brown asks a simple universal question: why can’t we all get along?

The sentiment has echoed before, and is not a fresh outtake, but with the clever production of “Everybody” it feels like an epiphany.

The commercial success of singers like Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and other similar Phil Specter tinged musicians, has indeed carved a niche for Brown’s target market.

Brown will have to distinguish herself from the aforementioned female acts. Although, all it takes a good look at Brown and she’s already leaps and bounds different from Winehouse and Duffy.

On “Travelling Like the Light,” echoes of Winehouse and Duffy can faintly be heard, and for first time listens, those influences are way too obvious. If listeners stick around, and get into the ballads that make up the album, it becomes clear given a couple more albums, Brown will become more than just a charismatic fashion plate who happens to sing.

Brown’s secret weapon is the versatility in her voice. Alternating between rocking and soothing, her voice flexibility is what Winehouse and Duffy lack.

Winehouse’s large appeal was her Ronette’s inspired beehive, not to mention her drunken and disorderly conduct. Duffy’s appeal was her good-girl with a knack for the blues, so while it’s contestable to compare Brown to those singers, it’s a mistake.

Brown is separating herself from the pack, by not only creating her own line of vintage clothing, but using technology in a way to be virtually everywhere. Brown asserts throughout the album that she is an “alien from outer space,” and for once that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

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