Well, to say that Nodesha's self-titled debut album has been produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and that LA Reid is an executive producer should really be all you need to know. Modern R&B? Pop influences? A smattering of rap but not too much? Sure...all those things but we had all that back in 1987 with Janet Jackson's Control and hundreds of times since with Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey and The Human League amongst others. Even as a fan, you'd have to ask yourself what is it about Nodesha that ought to have you parting with your cash?
Nodesha starts off well enough with Platinum Girl acting as an introduction for what follows - and you've gotta love an introduction - but as it's over in 47s, it's track 2, Get It While It's Hot, that really opens the album. Right up to date, the song is a stomping partner to Bootylicious by Destiny's Child and is all breathless vocals against a backing track that's as much R&B as it is disco. With it clearly being the album's best moment, it's not exactly surprising that Get It While It's Hot makes a reappearance later in the album but rather than being tagged on as a bonus track, Get It While It's Hot (AB Experience Remix) is in there as track 7 and loses the dancefloor-filling qualities of the earlier version in favour of Get Ur Freak On ticking.
Elsewhere, That's Crazy is summery pop with an insanely catchy melody not too far from Shanice's I Love Your Smile but not just as annoying but as is all too typical with R&B, there's a raft of dull ballads to get through in search of the good stuff. Between That's Crazy and the remix of Get It While It's Hot, there's three ballads that are notable for having dropped off the Jam and Lewis production line whilst another two must be endured before reaching the twisting electro-funk of Curious. Immediately after, Cupid In Me starts well with a few seconds of skewed electronica but soon settles down into a dreary little song with a tinny piano sound that has all-too-clearly been sampled out of ProTools. After that, the album drifts along before ending with the duet with Abs that introduced Nodesha to the UK - Miss Perfect - that is notable for it heading north of 100bpm on an album in which such events are all too rare.
Nodesha suffers the same fate as too many other R&B albums in which producers are content to hit start on the Alesis SR-16 setting marked SLOW BALLAD and sequence a few minor-key chords over the top. Whilst Crazy In Love, Bootylicious, Get Ur Freak On, One Minute Man, Independent Women and this album's Get It While It's Hot are likely to be drunkenly sung in Newcastle's Bigg Market at 1am on a Sunday morning, few will remember Kinda Guy I Like or Cupid In Me even in their more sober moments. Still, as fond of slowing the beat a little as Nodesha so clearly is, it's actually a better album that Beyoncé's ponderous Dangerously In Love but, given Beyoncé's willingness to wear very little/display not a lot, Nodesha is likely to get lost amongst the R&B super-divas.
The main problem with the album is that it's difficult to distinguish between this and any other album produced by Jam and Lewis in the twenty years from their first breakthrough. Indeed, such is the success of the Jam and Lewis template that regardless of how powerfully it is expressed elsewhere, there is little an artist can do to be heard amongst the duo's clinical beats - The Human League, for example, made their most anaemic album after turning to Jam & Lewis for a hit. Nodesha is really no different and, despite having a voice that's at least as good as Whitney, Beyoncé et al, she's a little lost amongst the crowd hooking for scraps in the Jam & Lewis production bins, which is a pity as, when she lets go, the results really aren't at all bad.
Note that this CD is copy-controlled and may not play on certain computers.