Like Norah Jones, Keri Noble was discovered by music industry veteran Arif Mardin, but "Fearless" possesses none of the somnolence that laces Jones's work. Noble's rich singing voice oozes with life and this singer/songwriter's sharp lyrics carry emotional heft. The result is a strong debut that brings to mind the first efforts of Ricki Lee Jones, Alicia Keys, and Fiona Apple. Noble's Peruvian father is the pastor of a Hispanic Baptist church in Detroit. She sang in the choir and listened to urban music on the radio, but none of these influences appear on her CD. Instead her songs lean heavily toward pop with an occasional dash of country twang. The bouncy, piano-driven "Talk to Me" savvily positions Noble as a Vanessa Carlton for the 20-something set, but Noble's work cuts deeper. The gorgeous "A Dream About You" begins with Noble starkly telling a former lover: "I had a dream about you last night/ I dreamed that you were dead." But this isn't the typical "he dumped me" song. She's the baddie -- the one who "didn't treat you right." On the equally beautiful "Falling" she describes falling in love as "this terrifying something rising up." And she's not afraid to be ambitious: "Bartender" finds her unraveling the tale of a dangerous love affair to a bartender over a loopy Carnival-esque beat.
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