Danish R&B chanteuse Maria Jensen draws on the unlikeliest influences for her debut album, the surprisingly sophisticated My Soul. The demure piano chord progression and diffusive guitar effects of the album’s first single, “I Give, You Take,” are inspired by Coldplay, while several tracks evoke the cool trip-hop stylings of Massive Attack (sturdy backbeats are accented with synthesized strings and prepared piano samples on the title track and “Weakness,” respectively). Jensen, who goes simply by Maria, co-wrote every song on My Soul, and as such soars ahead of the crowded songbird pack. Tracks like “Nowadays” and “Coffee in Bed” (with its tongue-in-cheek double entendres and infectious hook) sneak under the skin and get even catchier with each listen. The metaphors of the stand-out ballad “Intoxicated” are simple but poetic: “Constantly you’ve got me craving/Just another hit of you” (the song could have been written by Mariah). While Jensen may not have that R&B songstress’s vocal range, her edgy and emotive voice (and Soulshock’s sleek, patently European production) bring to mind the music of Aaliyah and Kelis. The album’s sole drawback is that it’s filled entirely with mid-tempo mood-setters and lacks that requisite club joint that would surely put Maria on the hip-hop map (paging Missy for the remix!).
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