by Germar Derron
I recently realized that I've already heard the best music I'll ever hear. I believe this in part because western music is limited to 12 notes. At this point, every melody, harmony, and rhythm exists, or existed, somewhere at some time. Now, musicians can only refresh or rebirth. But I mostly say this because music doesn't feel like it used to. I don't mean that in the "you kids get off my damn lawn" sense. I mean that I'll probably never love another song like I loved growing up with 90s R&B. When I sing, I sound like those groups. When I write songs, they sound like those songs. Even though I love today's music, I'm stuck in 1996-2000 because of what it meant to me as a child. I think that Anne Steele may have a similar connection to a similar time. That connection best represents both the problems and promise of this album.
What's Mine sounds like pop from the pop explosion--1997-2004. Here, the guitars, lyrics, keys, and titles like "Without You Tonight" and "Worst I Ever Had" recall the best of Mandy Moore, Britney, and Kelly Clarkson. It's not today's Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande, but this sound used to top charts. Anyone over a certain age, who secretly misses the *N SYNC-Backstreet battles, should purchase this album right now--like now. More than the style of music presented here, I really appreciate the diversity. If you're a fan of any style of pop, you'll love at least one of these tracks.
Videos of Anne live in concert present a totally different experience. She seems at home there. The sets I found included pop hits from Michael Jackson, to Maroon 5, to Queen. Those videos taught me so much more, about who she is, than her album does. She's fun, energetic--a performer. That's not captured in the album. Maybe this recalls the old analog versus digital arguments. And while I realize that I watched the videos via digital streaming, the musicians played live. Somehow that warmth, those dynamics, energy, and fun was totally lost on the album.
The album acts as a time machine in the best way. Pop music lovers might love it.