Reviewed by Lindsey Zahuranec

Anastacia.

No, I'm not talking about that dead Russian princess. Besides, it's spelled different.

I'm talking about a love child best described as borne of Taylor Dayne and James Brown with brassy vocal power to boot.

Intrigued? I was too.

So picture my shock when I found out that this Chicago-born, New York City-reared gal is as far away from looking like Macy Gray as Jessica Simpson is from winning a Nobel Prize in physics. Anastacia's a buxom blonde with outfits sure to make even Britney Spears blush. But don't let this fool you; she has a voice Britney can only dream of.

In 2000, Anastacia released her debut recording, Not That Kind and it quickly jumped into the U.K. scene. It's unfortunate she hasn't had as much success here in the United States because she's one of the best artists Sony Music has to offer.

Not That Kind is a funky mix of inspirational music with refreshing songs that you just can't pin down. Is it rock 'n' roll or classic soul? Or maybe a throwback to some '70s funk? Whatever category you lump her in, it doesn't matter. This girl's got some pipes and a style all her own that's evident when you listen to any of her songs.

Her voice packs a punch, but she doesn't waste your time by proving it Mariah Carey style.

Exaggerating this songbird with off-the-chart octaves would be a dishonor. The effect cast is a biting sound that will remind you of the Alanis Morissette days of our middle school years when all it took was a Jagged Little Pill to garnish attention.

The first two singles of this album, "I'm Outta Love" and "Not That Kind" will draw you into her gritty, soul-filled world. When you wrap your ears around "Made For Lovin' You" you'll hear some more deep, R&B feel that she accomplishes really well. The ending track "Same Old Story" isn't the same old story, and ends the whole album with a surprising gospel feel.

The only gripe I've got is with some of her material.

"Cowboys and Kisses" would be better suited to one of our pop culture's Britney clones. Sony, give this girl something to work with!

Her new self-titled album is the third in the Anastacia series. It's quickly becoming my favorite because of tracks like "Sick and Tired" and "Pretty Little Dum Dum" that finally do her justice. The most astonishing, though, is "Left Outside Alone" with its ghostly strength that would turn any Evanescence fan's head.

Anastacia connects to her audience by being down to earth and emotional. Yet, at the same time she's in your face with a love of sassy R&B. This lady's proof that white girls can sing the blues and do it well.

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