Sometimes the best way for an artist to stand out is to simplify. With a cognac-laced alto and a matter-of-fact vocal approach to song, the Canadian by way of Haiti soul pop singer debuts a mix of cover tunes and original material that pleases without working up a sweat. Taking on major cultural sign posts like Corey Hart’s classic line “I wear my sunglasses at night” on the reboot, “Girl in Shades,” an acoustic to soulful rock take on Prince’s oft-covered “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and a rarely touched Stevie Wonder hit like “Keep on Running” (a version blessed by an appearance by Wonder himself), Marie-Christine manages to make them her own with a sass and confidence that compels repeated listening, particularly on the synthy reggae-pop version of “Tempted” with fitting duet partner Golden Chyl.
Gifted with a husky tone, perfect pitch, and a running believability, the limitations of her vocal range proves less an issue than expected, particularly on Anders Bagge’s (Madonna, Janet Jackson) organic production that compliments her pluck and blue notes. From the neo-ragtime musicality of “Get Out” to the dark synth pop of “In Your Sweater,” the production remains consistently simple, unobtrusive, occasionally toe-tapping and pleasing to the ear. Lyrically penned and co-penned by Corey Hart, the originals all show up to swing and rarely miss. Incidentally, Marie-Christine is the first artist signed to the 80s Canadian pop-star’s label, Siena Records. Comparisons to Hilary Mwelwa of the UK’s Hil St. Soul may prove inevitable, but there’s something so neat and sure about Marie-Christine that you can’t help but see her as her own woman. We can’t wait to hear more.
Notable Songs: “Girl in Shades,” “Keep On Running (feat. Stevie Wonder),” “Get Out” and “Silence.”
Vocals: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 3.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Highly Recommended