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Album Review

Shontelle, 'No Gravity'

September 27, 2010

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Shontelle’s 2008 “Shontelligence’’ was one of the most overlooked pop gems of recent years. This follow-up for the Bajan singer-songwriter drops all Caribbean influences and leans toward club tracks mixed with canny pop and emotional, hook-laden ballads. Some of the songs here lack the kind of songwriting specificity that made her single “T-Shirt’’ so special (though a superfluous remix of it does appear here). This is especially true on the ballads like “Say Hello to Goodbye,’’ which contains the unfortunately recycled line “whatever doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger’’ (poor Nietzsche) and the underwhelming first single, “Impossible.’’ The life in both tracks is provided by Shontelle’s committed vocals. The club tracks are the standouts — especially the percussive, celebratory “Take Ova’’ — while the hip-hop flavored “DJ Made Me Do It’’ is a brisk workout marred by a flat-footed MC turn by Asher Roth, who fits in here about as comfortably as a Jets fan at Gillette Stadium. Two engaging pop songs, “Love Shop,’’ a slyly sexy ode to devotion, and “Helpless,’’ with its percolating rhythm track, have insinuating, irresistible hooks. Facile comparisons to fellow Barbadian Rihanna have shadowed Shontelle, but this should move her into the spotlight. (Out now)

KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “Take Ova’’