Album: Jem

Finally Woken, ATO/BMG
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The Independent Culture

Try as she may, Jem will struggle to shake off the accusations that she's simply a Dido clone. The parallels are too numerous to ignore: a British singer, with help from her brother, secures an American breakthrough courtesy, in part, of her association with a TV series ( The OC), with a warm, unchallenging blend of trip-hop beats and wan, affectless vocals. There's not even that great a difference in lyrical themes, as Jem nibbles away at much the same slim portfolio of emotional observations: the pain of separation ("Missing You", "Stay Now"); desire to surmount insecurities ("Save Me"); reluctance to run the risk of being hurt again ("Falling for You"); reassurance in the face of life's vicissitudes ("Just a Ride"); and so on. But the crassness of the latter song's casting of life as "just a ride" accurately indicates the superficial, cliché-ridden standard of reflections on offer here. Jem's low-level musings and her Stepford vocal manner leave her album's appeal heavily reliant on th

Try as she may, Jem will struggle to shake off the accusations that she's simply a Dido clone. The parallels are too numerous to ignore: a British singer, with help from her brother, secures an American breakthrough courtesy, in part, of her association with a TV series ( The OC), with a warm, unchallenging blend of trip-hop beats and wan, affectless vocals. There's not even that great a difference in lyrical themes, as Jem nibbles away at much the same slim portfolio of emotional observations: the pain of separation ("Missing You", "Stay Now"); desire to surmount insecurities ("Save Me"); reluctance to run the risk of being hurt again ("Falling for You"); reassurance in the face of life's vicissitudes ("Just a Ride"); and so on. But the crassness of the latter song's casting of life as "just a ride" accurately indicates the superficial, cliché-ridden standard of reflections on offer here. Jem's low-level musings and her Stepford vocal manner leave her album's appeal heavily reliant on the arrangements, which mingle trip-hop beats with obscure samples - most effectively on the single "They", which ponders political mind-control to a backdrop of Swingle Singers vocal fragments. The rest of Finally Woken, sadly, is not as interesting.

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