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Monday, July 21, 2008

Barbara Stephan

I'm Awake

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   Milwaukee's Barbara Stephan has built a reputation as a jazz-pop vocalist with blues flavor. She must realize, however, that Diana Krall and Etta James aren't getting as much airplay as other adult-contemporary divas, so she has adapted—and pretty well, at that. At this solo album's best, when Stephan is singing about herself in relation to others, she synchronizes her personal soul music with more commercial sounds to radio-ready effect. I'm Awake is familiar in the right places and exotic enough in others to make for a distinctive outing in a genre where distinction is most welcome.


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