I have often been disappointed by Tina Arena's choice of material, which never did her voice any justice. With the exception of the dynamic "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You" from The Mask of Zorro, and Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down The Wind", the rest of her last album, In Deep, felt like she'd swum out too far and was in danger of drowning.
However the new album, Just Me, is bound to stun her detractors to silence. Here, the music is an inspired blend of lush strings and electronica, dance pop and balladry that showcases one of Pop's finest and most underrated talents of the past decade. Tracks like the ambient "God Only Knows" (which bears resemblance to Massive Attack's 'Teardrop'), the philosophical "Symphony Of Life", the upbeat "If You Ever" and the middle-eastern flavoured "Tangled", are all stand-out tracks that make this such a stunning ablum. It is obvious that Arena is experimenting with more adventurous sounds on this album, and thus it is her most eclectic to date. If you like the power and technique behind Celine Dion's voice and the more 'enlightened' style Madonna has adopted on her most recent albums, then I highly recommend this collection. Tina Arena brings a rawness and sincerity to her music that few of her contemporaries possess.
A word of advice: if you are able to get your hands on the import version with three bonus tracks in French, it's well worth the effort!
Who knows, maybe this time she'll gain the recognition she greatly deserves, and repeat the success she had with "Chains", back in 1994.