15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Does what it says on the tin...,
This review is from: Play To Win (Audio CD)
...after YET ANOTHER three year hiatus, Gabrielle returns Playing To Win, and if the music on this, her 4th studio album proper, is anything to go by, she'll be winning all over again with multi-platinum sales again.
Opening tracks 'Ten Years Time', 'Sometimes' and the aptly titled 'Stay The Same' show something of a lack of progression for Gabrielle, sounding very much like they could come from her 1999 album, but this isn't necessarily a criticism. 'Ten Years Time', in particular, is Gabrielle at her best. Lyrics that really rouse the spirit, an anthemic singalong chorus and clear, smooth production, making an essential future hit.
The middle section of the album brings Gabrielle into new territory however with 'You Used To Love Me', 'Play To Win' and 'No Big Deal' all heading into the realms of country music. 'Play To Win' is the stand out of this section of the album sounding like a strange combination of something Shania Twain or Tanita Tikaram might collabarate together on!
The 2nd half of the album takes a mixture of this new Dolly Parton-Gabrielle and the old Gabrielle we know and love, to give some of the best songs of her career. It's rare to see such a strong 2nd half of an album. 'Latchkey Kid' tells the tale of a six year old child being brought up in horrendous circumstances; 'Fallen Angel' is a ballad of hope for anyone who's ever lost their way; and 'Picking Up The Pieces' reminds me of the Gabrielle of 1993, with a more electronic sound than her more recent material. It's a pop song with enough hooks and tunes to make up half an album of any average singer's album; and on 'Tumbling Down', Gabrielle even gives us her subtle stance on the war in Iraq.
Touching on issues she's never attempted before, it is clear that Gabrielle's songwriting is maturing all the time - and if it was good enough to last the first 11 years of her career, it could last a long time yet. Consistent and catchy, with only 2 slightly weaker tracks ('No Big Deal', 'Give & Take'), this is probably Gabrielle's strongest collection of songs to date.