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Blu Cantrell Biography

Last updated: 10/21/2001 11:24:25 PM

by Sylvia Chan

Blu Cantrell is through. Through with no-good, do-wrong, sweet-talkin', always-cheatin', ever-scheming, busted-ass men. Luckily, this aptly-named 25-year-old from Providence, Rhode Island understands that you've got to have the blues before you can sing about 'em, and uses her pain to turn out a gorgeously heartfelt, straight-ahead soul album. And despite the fact that settling scores in songs has become de rigueur in R&B land these days, Cantrell (who was discovered by Arista CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid) manages to avoid no-scrubs, bills-bills-bills clichés and get down to the business of what a broken heart is all about.

"Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops)," the album's first single, is a jubilant revenge anthem, complete with an infectious, finger-wagging, Charleston riff that should have the ladies wiggling and their fellas checking their wallets. But Cantrell, the daughter of a jazz-singing mother, fares even better with the slow songs. Lacing scats into melismas and blues runs into R&B riffs, this torch-singing newcomer doesn't just take it to church with her debut, but to the dimly-lit juke joint, the packed club, the smoky underground café. Transitioning effortlessly from starry-eyed breathlessness to Eartha Kitt growl to full-throttle, shiver-inducing wail, Cantrell incants catharsis with haunting ballads like "That One," in which she muses upon finding a soulmate and "I'll Find a Way," in which she offers up a glorious, showstopping vocal transition out of the song's bridge that would do Chaka Khan proud.