Carrie Lucas - Portrait of Carrie
Perhaps her most characteristically varied outing, Carrie Lucas' fourth album ranges in tone from the jovial light funk of "Career Girl" to the serene ballad "Just a Memory" (a duet with her frequent musical friends the Whispers) to the chipper "It's Not What You Got (It's How You Use It)." It is clear throughout that solid production doesn't hurt in spicing up Lucas' vocals, which are consistently understated. Simultaneously, her lack of theatrics set her apart from the flock of '70s and '80s female R&B divas and contribute an unmistakable uniqueness to the arrangements. The fact that Lucas regularly served co-writing duties also gives her a distinction in the pack; and she is equally at home in dance and ballad settings. Besides the previously mentioned tracks, "Keep Smilin'," a remix of 1977's "I Gotta Keep Dancin'," is particularly notable: a great hook and clever production make it disco heaven. Portrait of Carrie is a close second to the vocalist's follow-up, Still in Love.