Album: Des'ree

Dream Soldier, Sony
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The Independent Culture

DES'REE

Poor Des'ree has problems, judging by Dream Soldier. And what problems! The schematic trip-hop beats of "It's Okay" have barely reached full stride before she's fretting about something. Never mind, let's get the kettle on. "A cup of tea might do the trick/ The milk's gone off/ Now you're feeling sick." Oh, no! It's just one thing after another. But against such tribulations, Des'ree asserts with queenly stoicism that, yes, "It's gonna be OK." I can't, in all honesty, share her sanguinity; if I were her, I'd be well worried. Because, for a songwriter who's won an Ivor Novello award, Dream Soldier contains some of the laziest, most embarrassing lyrics ever set to music. I don't mean the sloppy evangelism of "Human" – in which she claims, one moment, that "sometimes all you need is a little faith", and, the next, that you "need a little wisdom, a little understanding" (which isn't the same thing at all). Nor do I especially refer to the feel-good falsehoods of "Doesn't Matter", in which, against all available evidence, she persists with the canard that "It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor/ You can open any door." No, I'm referring to "Something Special", which includes the astonishing triplet "on my own/answerphone/ Toblerone", sung with no discernible trace of irony or shame. What was she thinking? And what exactly do her producers consider their job to be, other than lashing on the standard R&B grooves that carry these deathless words? Apart from the weird little bass-harmonica hook to "Human", there's no evidence that anyone involved with Dream Soldier expended more than the bare minimum needed to procure a UK hit. Yes, it's that negligible.

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