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Monday, December 18, 2006

I don't know a lot about Sam Obernik. All you need to know is that she's from Ireland, was on two dance music smashes, and had a kick-ass album unfortunately shelved in 2003. Fortunately, it happened to be on U.S. iTunes, so I have it here for you! Her vocals and sound are really unique; she just didn't fit into the pop climate of the time. Being somewhat older than other pop stars (and a divorced mother) couldn't have helped. Ironically, I think Sam would have done better today, when left-field pop-ish stuff like Gnarls Barkley has been successful. She's more poppy than that, though. Somebody who played backup guitar for Britney Spears (speaking of, anyone want in for a gift of underwear this Christmas?) certainly has the credentials! After the single "Mr. Butterfly" flopped, reaching 50-something in the UK singles charts, her album was officially shelved. Now she's in a band called Barefoot, not to be confused with the Creepy Dad Simpson (of Jessica and Ashlee fame) boy band with instruments project Barefoot. (Yes, very confusing. Neither managed to snare the domain name "barefoot.com", which believe it or not, belongs to a technology company as opposed to an adult website.)

It Just Won't Do - The '02 dance smash with friend Tim Deluxe that rose her to prominence and inspired Warner to give her a lucrative multi-album contract *sigh*. Even though this isn't representative of her solo material, it still has that quirkiness in lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals.

Now I present the album, Stellify! (Is that a real word? I'm not sure. No matter.)

Full album download

1. Here Come the Girls - A mid-tempo with some ambient-type string touches. It evokes spring, as does a lot of the album and it's cover art.

2. Mr. Butterfly - The single, using the semi-formula of acoustic guitars with electronic pop backing. Sam's voice is a bit unusual, which could be a reason for the song's general lack of success. With a few tweaks, it could have been done by another pop star and had greater success. For some reason, Billie Piper circa Walk of Life comes to mind.

The music video is pretty inventive:

3. Single - I guess if there was a song representative of her sound (which there really isn't), this would be it. Another mid-tempo number, with some sweet harmonies from her own backing vocals in the chorus. Like most songs on the album, it has a good melody.

4. Little Mistakes - This is more of a ballad. It features strings and a sitar. Somebody needs to snap this up for one of those chill-out compilations by Ministry of Sound or Ultra. (I like those...)

5. Solid State - One of her favorites off the album, it's an acoustic ballad with some electronic effects, which blossoms into an orchestral ballad that has flutes and electric guitars. One of my favorite elements of this album is the varied instrumentation, which was unique for pop in the early '00s.

6. Sweetness - Probably one of the most "typical" songs on the album. It's an acoustic guitar-driven mid-tempo a bit reminiscent of Hepburn, Madasun, etc. but with her own twist and lyrical wordplay on it.

7. Things That Make You Scared - Another favorite of mine; this one is more beat-driven and another one that could be made 'mainstream' with few changes, though it's fine the way it is. It continues the mid-tempo pace of a lot of the album. it's almost "alternative r&b", in a good way.

8. Sunshine - "Does your sun shine on the moonlight". Slower and acoustic, though it briefly speeds up for hand-clap percussion during the bridge before KT Tunstall brought box percussion to the mainstream music world.

9. Not Enough - One of the poppiest songs on the album (again) and a great one. Another "beat" song; the CD is evenly split between those and the more guitar-influenced ones.

10. Just Won't Do - Yes, it's the previously posted dance smash; except completely reinvented in an acoustic style with guitar and drums. Pretty cool.

11. Nobody and You - Clearly the "big ballad" of the album, and the most generic-sounding thing on here. However, the lyrics are obviously very personal and about her failed relationship.

12. Miss America - A Broadway-esque ballad with sarcastic lyrics about the media's obsession with appearance. It's probably intentional that it actually sounds like the kind of song that would be sung at a beauty pageant.

Suitcase - B-side of the "Mr. Butterfly" single. An acoustic track, far more straightforward than the ones the ones that made the album. Pretty.

Stand Back - Going back to her commercial beginnings, Sam featured on this Stevie Nicks cover by dance producer Linus Loves. Her vocal stylings make it more than a cheap dance cover of previous hit songs. It has more traditional house/dance production than the original "It Just Won't Do".

Mr. Butterfly (M-Factor Vocal Mix) - It was on the single of the same name. Unlike the original version, the remixes were hits in clubs. The actual production is good, but this mix is an example of one of my biggest pet peeves - a "vocal mix" that leaves hardly any of the vocals in. Just call it a dub, damn it!! Obviously you can't get a great feel of her strong tunes (prevalent throughout the album) from this, but still, enjoy.

Random musing: Why exactly are they making another Rocky movie? Is Sylvester Stallone kidding?! To top it all off, the rumored Natasha Bedingfield song "Still Here" isn't even on the soundtrack!

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Last Updated @ 8:34 PM