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Published: Sunday, 4/13/2003

CD reviews: Celine's voice is strong but uneven

Celine Dion's profile has never been higher, with a three-year gig in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and added visibility as a spokesperson for Chrysler - whose logo, to underline the marketing link, is emblazoned on the inner cover beneath this CD. But does the music match the hype?

There's never been any doubt that Dion can sing, and is particularly effective on ballads as she soars up the vocal register. But while on “One Heart” she often performs with impressive technical proficiency, too many of the songs are mediocre and she is unable to infuse them with sufficient feeling or emotion.

The disc gets off to a poor start with the frothy dance-style “I Drove All Night” and the soulless, hip-hop-like “Love Is All We Need.” Dion is more impressive on “Faith,” a mid-paced song that has an appealing melody, and “In His Touch,” another attractive ballad on which she shows nice vocal restraint. She closes the disc with one of its high points, a tuneful country-style song, “Je T'Aime Encore.”

But overall, “One Heart” is a rather frustrating disc because it's once again clear that given the right song and arrangement Dion can be a powerful performer whose music has appeal beyond the middle of the road. But there are too few of those songs, and those performances, to sustain this CD.

- RICHARD PATON

This collection of relatively obscure blues artists taking on one of Bob Dylan's classic works is the ornery little brother to a recent compilation of the master songwriter's religious songs. Using the 1966 double album “Blonde on Blonde” as their template, a group of talented blues artists turn 12 of Dylan's songs upside down and shake the funk out of them. It's a lot of fun and the performances are first rate.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

Sean Ardoin leaves no doubt he's the prize catch of a label Buckwheat Zydeco founded to promote the next generation of zydeco stars. He showcases his high-octane energy, while also doing a little crooning, and his southwest Louisiana style is balanced by a keen sense of what's hip today. Ardoin's comfort level with the accordion is evident, and he is undeniably an emerging musical force.

- TOM HENRY

In a rarity among tribute albums, some of the songs here are actually better than the originals. In each case, it's the quality of the voice compared to Jennings. “Good-Hearted Woman,” done by Guy Clark, touches some notes with far more certainty than Jennings did. Other highlights are Nancy Griffith's “You Asked Me To” and Allison Moorer's “Storms Never Last.” The disc is in stores Tuesday.

- KEN ROSENBAUM

From the first notes of “Standard of Language” you know something exciting is afoot because of its energy. Using the basic quartet with which he recorded “Happy People,” Garrett captures in the studio the vibrant sounds normally found only in live performances. He lays down hard bop sounds, augmented with enough experimental melodic patterns to cement his position as today's most innovative saxophonist on alto or soprano.

- LARRY ROBERTS

BRIEFLY NOTED

  • GLOBAL, Paul van Dyk (Mute) Van Dyk's latest two-disc set combines a CD and DVD. The CD contains 11 previously released and two new tracks that well reflect the career of this top composer/DJ in the trance style of dance music. The tracks are both accessible and high-energy. The DVD includes music videos, plus 5:1 surround sound. R.P.

  • MEMORY GIRLS, Warren Zanes (Dualtone) A former member of the Del Fuegos, guitarist/songwriter Zanes takes a hiatus from his journey into academia to release his solo debut of 12 original pop tunes about love and relationships. Now a professor with a PhD in cultural studies, he should stay in the classroom. K.R.



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