Perhaps it the Curse of David Hasselhoff, but it appears every Hollywood starlet longs for a backbeat these days. More alarming is the fact these records sell…millions strong, in fact. Blame it on a celebrity culture combined with a dash of American Idol, but the line between singer and screen appears dotted, at best.
Insert 21-year old Emmy Rossum, arguably best known for her star role in 2004’s movie version of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ Rossum’s surprisingly robust vocal performance contrasted strongly with Gerald Butler’s on-screen audible blasphemy as the Phantom. Not to mention she’s easy on both the ears and eyes.
Rossum parlayed this performance – one which resulted in a Golden Globe nomination plus 4 smaller film awards – into a 3-song, Geffen Records EP entitled ‘Inside Out.’
Expecting the worst produced the opposite effect: this is one terrific EP. ‘Inside Out’ can best be described as a synergy between Imogen Heap (albeit less electronic) and Sarah McLachlan (sans tighter lyrics), a beautiful mesh of sampled voices and harmonized flow. The similarities to Heap are so strong, skeptics tout artistic rip-off between the two. I’ll let you be the judge.
‘Slow Me Down’ is the EP’s first track, and perhaps its best. A spoken word lullaby of beautiful harmony carries a song that longs for greater length. ‘Stay’ echoes the McLachlan feel alluded to above, the complex percussion accompaniment gently in tune with lyrical high points. In hearing this song, I couldn’t help but recall McLachlan’s terrific 1997 album ‘Surfacing.’ Simply put, this song flows. Finally, the Imogen Heap influence comes out to play in ‘Falling.’ Funky, re-sampled, and with an edge; this is Rossum at her finest and likewise the EP’s most radio friendly song.
Still, ‘Inside Out’ is not perfect. Lyrics are shallow, and Rossum – while a pleasure to listen to – never truly commits herself to the EP. To elaborate, more individualism and less sampling would go a long way. I left ‘Inside Out’ hoping this an appetizer to a more bountiful melodic entrée. A great start, however, for a first time artist.
CONCLUSION: 8 [IMOGEN HEAP’S] OUT OF 10.