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CD Review: V.V. Brown

Traveling Like the Light (Capitol)

Insanely catchy, shamelessly but brilliantly derivative, V.V. Brown's Travelling Like the Light is the sharpest pop recording since Katy Perry captured the charts two years ago with One of the Boys. A young British singer with an uncanny knack for appropriation, Brown kicks off her debut CD with "Quick Fix," pivots into the hard-rock kissoff "Game Over," then lets the pop strains loose in her first single, "Shark in the Water." The production is high and treble-heavy, the textures high-gloss. This is an album of style and attitude, and Brown nicks astutely. There's rockabilly in "L.O.V.E." (the background vocals by her kid brothers strut); jittery electronics in the breathless, aggressive "Everybody," the best track; even a nod to Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs' "Sugar Shack" in the fizzy "Crazy Amazing." Brown does retro expertly, yet each song sounds fresh. Although a cheeky persona dominates the album, Brown goes widescreen and yearning in "I Love You," a swooning, churchy synthesis of Sade and the Delfonics. In "Back in Time," she evokes ancestors like the Ronettes and the Shirelles, who blazed gender trails with similar attitude, versatility, and swing. Brown's debut is a blast, making her one to watch.

Carlo Wolff

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