Soul Diva's Dud

Tina Turner - Twenty Four Seven
(Virgin Records)
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

It's been quoted that at a 1953 recording session a barely teenage Tina Turner sounded like "a starving child singing for her supper." Now 47 years later she sounds more like she's ordering a fast food snack through a drive-through window.
That's not to say that one-time soul queen Turner doesn't still have the passion in her, its just that over the last two decades her level of vocal intensity has been directly tied to the intensity of her music - which has all too often forsaken the powerful soul and gritty R&B of her early work with her ex-husband, Ike, in favor of over-produced, middle-of-the-road pop fodder which does little to showcase her true talents.
Her latest album Twenty Four Seven is filled with this type of assembly-line music designed by producers to appeal to the masses - sounding as natural pumping out of a discotheque sound system as in aisle 8 at Wal-Mart. Hoping to score big on her latest hit "When The Heartache Is Over" Turner has hired the same production team that turned Cher's hit "Believe" into a multi-platinum disco monster. The cheesy euro-beats that plague this song unfortunately also infects a good portion of the rest of the album. Although the number "All The Woman" opens with an interesting space-age funk, it soon sinks into a pretentious sing-song chorus, while the slow-moving "Falling" as well as the empty filler of "Absolutely Nothing's Changed" do nothing but help mask Turner's dynamic set of pipes.
In 1984 MTV helped make her a household name to both young and old across the globe, heavily promoting her debut solo album Private Dancer , which mixed slick hits with true grit. Now with numbers like the opening pop of "Whatever You Need" Turner seems to be taking less risks and content to play to a decidedly safer VH1 crowd.
Although the majority of Turner's vocal performances on the album are lackluster compared to what she is capable of, she does shine through a few numbers. Despite the slick, over-sanitized arrangement of "Don't Leave Me This Way" her buttery, soulful voice cuts through the cleanliness with a steamy passion. The angry chorus that Turner shouts out and throbbing bass that permeates through "Go Ahead" as well as the spirited rocker "Twenty Four Seven" make for a couple of rough gems among the debris. The lusty funk of "Without You" turns out to be the one killer number that hearkens back to her gut-wrenching performances of her youth, as the band finally tosses aside their strings, synths and cummerbunds and roll up their sleeves to give this soul diva a proper canvas to strut her stuff on.
It's not that she doesn't have it anymore (and, brother, just one look at this 59-year-old knockout will testify that she's still got it) it's just that the soft-in-the-middle music she and her producers have chosen for Twenty Four Seven doesn't give her a chance to use her full potential.

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