Review: Former Spice makes mild debut
June 14, 1999
By Mary Jo DiLonardo
(CNN) -- The wait is over.
Geri Halliwell, the artist formerly known as Ginger Spice on Tuesday releases her debut solo album. The disc is a lightweight collection of catchy pop tunes, a mix of everything from Madonna to ABBA to the Spice Girls themselves.
It won't break any musical ground, but it's likely to do quite well on the radio and on the charts.
C'mon. You were expecting Andrea Bocelli?
There's a little something for everyone on the aptly named "Schizophonic," which runs the gamut from Indian chants and Latin salsa to '70s funk and disco. Halliwell goes from introspective to brassy, demure to wily.
Make it easy on yourself
Many of the songs -- all penned at least partially by the artist -- seem to be autobiographical and focused on her split with the Spices.
She growls about "big hair / little break-up" in the debut single, "Look at Me." Backed by a 16-piece orchestra in "Walk Away," she sings, "Walk away this time with my head up high / Walk away just me and myself / Walk away with pride, nothing left to hide. But it just feels right to be one and just walk away."
There are a couple of songs on the disc that have instant crossover appeal for the pop and soft-rock charts (not unlike some mushier Spice Girls' stuff). The tender ballad "Lift Me Up" could easily make its way to radio as a pleasant hit. The problem arises when Halliwell tries to go half-Latino, half-disco on "Mi Chico Latino" or adds an electric sitar to the orchestration on "Let Me Love You." It's a little too Madonna-esque.
As one of the Spices, Halliwell was better known for her physical endowments than her vocal prowess. As soon as she jumped ship, the other Girls were quick to point out that Ginger didn't do much of the group's actual singing.
Although her voice is far from rich on this disc, what she lacks in depth, Halliwell makes up for in emotion and attitude. Besides, if pop music were all about substance, the Backstreet Boys might not slather on so much hair gel and Britney Spears may not have had breast implants.
Speaking of breasts, the ex-Spice keeps hers demurely tucked away. It's a far cry from her former look -- poured into a Union Jack micro-mini outfit, sporting brash red hair and glam makeup.
Her wild antics have also been toned down. Halliwell -- who kissed Nelson Mandela and once even pinched Prince Charles on his bum -- now is an ambassador of good will for the United Nations.
While the remaining Spice Girls have stayed in the headlines by getting married and having babies, Halliwell has remained in the spotlight. She has spoken out for breast-cancer awareness, taken part in Comic Relief in Uganda and sold her trademark outfits to benefit a children's charity.
But can Old Spice make it as a solo act?
"Who knows just where I'm going?" Halliwell sings. "Does tomorrow belong to me?"
Only time will tell. But this seems a decent start.
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