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Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield
Released: Dec 2010
Label: Epic/Phonogenic
Natasha Bedingfield sounds positively vibrant on her third album, but Strip Me isn't exactly stripped. Instead, it's heavy with emotion and pumps with big, dramatic and often fascinating beats -- the excess of the '80s instead of the minimalist angle others are reviving. Bedingfield's gorgeous, muscular vocals -- gossamer here, rock 'n' roll squalling there -- soar over and through everything. The second half gets a little mired in quasi-adult contemporary, but first-half tracks like the pensively theatrical "All I Need" and the gut-punchingly pretty title track more than make up for it.
Rachel Devitt