Local Wire

Melissa Cohee

What hath Nile Rodgers wrought? Or was it Giorgio Moroder? Whoever was the wizard who figured out how to make records without musicians has a lot to answer for. True, sampled beats and programmed rhythms come a lot cheaper than those who can actually play instruments, but pop and dance music often suffer loss of distinctiveness and spontaneity. Those qualities are sorely lacking in Melissa Cohee's maxi-EP Expression. Although the locally based singer has a full-bodied, sassy, lusty-rich voice, the songs, borne by pedestrian beats and fragments of melody (the kind Madonna, Grace Jones, and Stacy Q gave up long ago) sound and feel strictly assembly line. And who was the genius that came up with the generic Ali Baba/Hercules Meets the Sultan of Cincinnati "Middle Eastern" riff of "Dreamin'"? Melissa Cohee is a very fine singer of the dance-pop genre, but alas, Expression would be a great album if 1988 ever comes 'round again (or if one finds Pussycat Dolls too challenging).
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Mark Keresman