Influenced by Sade and Norah Jones, New Young Vocalist Gives R&B a Deeper Shade of Soul

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Murphy doesn't fake her emotions; there is genuine feeling - love, joy, sadness, acceptance - in her voice.

Despite numerous attempts at authenticity, much of today's R&B product is far from being soulful. Just because a singer has the chops, it doesn't mean they can capture the true essence of the genre. So what we end up usually getting are wanna-be's, young vocalists who dream of becoming this generation's Aretha Franklin or Marvin Gaye but the passion in their singing is completely artificial. Much of the problem is the thinness of their voices, giving the producers the responsibility of pumping up their vocals with enough gloss to frost a BMW.

Put Maylyn Murphy on the list of sparkling exceptions. Inspired by Sade, Norah Jones, and Alicia Keys (whom she resembles the most), Murphy doesn't fake her emotions; there is genuine feeling - love, joy, sadness, acceptance - in her voice. On the title track, Murphy sounds self-confident and strong without dipping into pop-radio clichés. Another singer would most likely raise her voice with a bratty or bitchy demeanor, but Murphy's approach is more subtle. She projects a strong belief in herself with the coolness of her delivery. Murphy isn't in your face; rather, she's whispering in your ear.

On "Love Will Keep Us" and "You & I," Murphy hits the sexual regions of her voice. Without consciously trying to be erotic, Murphy melts the microphone with the heartbreaking prettiness of her singing. One would wonder what would've happened if Murphy was given torch-song arrangements instead of the contemporary urban rhythms that she works with here. On a commercial level, no, that probably wouldn't have been a good idea although artistically it might've been more pleasing.

Murphy's break-up tune, "Move On," is the best-written song on the CD. However, what really makes it click is, no surprise here, Murphy's vocals. She doesn't sound depressed or angry as would be expected. Instead, as the title says, Murphy is simply moving on, accepting her fate and going further with her life. It's a mature outlook that many young artists have yet to develop.

The final song, "My Goodbye," finds Murphy at her most moving. There is an undeniable spiritual quality to this crestfallen ballad about a loved one's passing. Murphy's sense of mourning is balanced by her belief in God, and the overall tone - as with "Move On" - is of better days ahead. If Murphy keeps recording touching music like this, that is certainly guaranteed.

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