Imogen Heap's Speak for Yourself
Ken Kase
8/22/2005 8:50:38 AM

Imogen Heap
Speak for Yourself (Universal/Absolute)

Imogen Heap's latest solo effort, although not yet released in the United States, has already begun the back-door track to success on this side of the pond via the proven method of inclusion on film and television soundtracks without major album sales or significant airplay. Fans of the film Garden State may remember that distinctive voice from the iTunes hit "Let Go" by Frou Frou and Heap's current U.K. single "Hide and Seek", recently featured on television's "The O.C."

Speak for Yourself is a perfect showcase for Imogen Heap, whose songwriting gifts continue to grow. Though still a tad obsessed by romantic love, her lyrics have become much more potent and quixotic ("Have You Got It In You?", "The Moment I Said It"). Those whose tastes steer away from electronically generated sounds will be brought back on course by the solid songs and Heap's incredibly evocative and muscular voice. "Hide and Seek", with its beautiful melody and eerie vocals run through a Vocoder (allowing her voice to trigger synth sounds) is a standout, stretching the emotion of the lyric to an absolute zenith, although the faux a capella effect leaves one wondering what this song would sound like coming from an ensemble. "Clear the Area" is a great pop song (recalling the quirkiness of Suzanne Vega).

The atmosphere on Speak for Yourself is a little chilly, keeping Imogene Heap a little detached from the proceedings. This might be a mistake. The production is pleasant enough but slick, and this glossing-over effect takes away some of the emotional punch. Still, this is a well-written, well executed album full of hooks and the smoky allure of Heap's arresting voice. It's arrival in the States will be worth the wait.


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