In the glut of talent shows currently running on US television, it is very easy to lose sight of the actual goal of finding someone who eventually goes on to have a successful recording career. American Idol has been the most consistent hit-making show, having given the world Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino, and most recently the one-two country punch of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Even season 11 winner Phillip Phillips appears to have a legitimate hit on his hands with his surprisingly solid coronation song “Home.”
In its two years of airing, The Voice has yet to produce a breakthrough star. Following in her fellow competitor Dia Frampton’s footsteps is Vicci Martinez, who also made it to the finals in the first season of The Voice. Vicci’s major label debut album Vicci, hot on the heels of a lead EP, attempts to introduce her to a wider audience with mixed results.
The heart of Vicci is “Come Along,” which features Vicci’s mentor from The Voice, Cee-Lo Green. Turns out the track was originally recorded in 2001 by Swedish pop singer Titiyo, who barely missed the Top 40 in the US with “My Body Says Yes” back in 1991. While “Come Along” does sound contemporary, it also stands out from the crowd mixed in with the cookie-cutter vocoders and dime-a-dozen emo bands that fill much of the playlists Martinez is bound to be played on.
While “Come Along” is far and away the standout track here, the other tracks on this debut hold their own. “Run Run Run” sounds like something that Pat Benatar would have recorded in the mid-to-late 80s, and while vocally they may be different, both Vicci and Pat have a similar spirit and energy that bridge multiple genres like pop, rock and blues. In fact, one of Vicci’s stand-out performances from her time on The Voice was taking on Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.”
Two other tracks that also appeared on the Come Along EP (“Hold Me Darlin’” and “I Can Love”) both bring out a bluesy vocal that still mixes well with the contemporary production provided. As if that combination weren’t surprising already, it turns out that Martinez worked with renowned remixer/producer Jason Nevins on “Hold Me Darlin’” as well as “I Can Love.” Check out an acoustic version of “I Can Love” below for more of that bluesy vocal style:
While I’m a big Vicci Martinez fan, this album is very uneven. For every stellar track like “I Can Love,” there is a less-than-stellar cut like “I Want Your Kiss” that doesn’t click. Having said that, this album does serve as a solid intro to folks who didn’t watch The Voice as to what type of artist Vicci Martinez is. In a world of vocal competition finalists who release generic albums aimed for the mainstream, Vicci has personality and soul that already puts her well ahead of that pack of wannabes. Here’s hoping her label gives her the opportunity to grow and establish herself instead of just dropping her without the proper support.