Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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***

KELLY PRICE
Mirror, Mirror
Def Soul

Studio veteran Kelly Price's church-cured pipes and diva pride having endeared her to the r&b faithful, her 1998 Soul of a Woman played to those strengths. But the strengths were also limitations--a voice doesn't make you Aretha Franklin, just as self-reliance doesn't make you Mary J. Blige. So the unconverted will be glad to learn that Price doesn't rest content with the ho-hum press-release claim that her new Mirror, Mirror tells "Kelly Price's story." This time, barely half the songs are mere vocal showcases. Divas being divas, it's no surprise that the standouts include most of those she didn't compose, notably "At Least (The Little Things)," by (who else?) R. Kelly, and a cover of Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay." But two collaborations with producer and multi-instrumentalist Shep Crawford, "She Wants You" and "Married Man," bode well for her songwriting future. Like small children and lead guitarists, backup singers shouldn't be left to wander off by themselves. But if they're very catchy, exceptions can be made.

Rolling Stone, 2000