Album Review: Anastacia “Evolution”

anastacia evolution

I’ve been an Anastacia fan for about 15 years, and that’s about how long it’s been since her last US performance (at this point I’m begging, shamelessly, for just one NYC show). In that time she’s gone from a blossoming pop-funk diva to rocker, and a few places in between. While her sound has evolved and changed, one thing that remains consistent is that voice. I first remember it referred to as Aretha Franklin-meets-Taylor Dayne (in Sam Goody’s Request Magazine, talk about a throwback). Her voice is one of a kind, and a powerhouse. On Evolution, the voice holds steady and the music evolves.

Her last studio album was 2014’s Resurrection. It signaled a return to her self-proclaimed ‘sprock’ (soul-pop-rock) music she invented and perfected on 2003’s self-titled magnum opus Anastacia. Between the two she ventured into contemporary R&B & pop on 2008’s Heavy Rotation and rock classics on 2012’s It’s A Man’s World. Suffice it to say, she’s been musically adventurous. However, Evolution represents her first true progression since Heavy Rotation. This time, her sound evolves into a unique incarnation of pop and rock.

First single “Caught In The Middle” introduces this rock-y/pop sound, but with a notable touch of Middle Eastern flair a la 2003’s “Sick And Tired”. It’s got an edge, fits into the radio soundscape, but doesn’t chase trends. The rest of Evolution follows this format, with one exception. On “Before” she delivers a solid Dua Lipa impression. Speaking of which, they would make a killer collaboration, combining their two unique voices.

Throughout this set, the songs are diverse, catchy, and fresh. Evolution turned out to be a true case of not judging a book by it’s cover. In the weeks leading up to the release, Anastacia shared 10-15 second previews of the album on Twitter. With each preview, I grew more weary. The songs sounded messy and disorganized. However, listening to each song in it’s entirety it became clear that the snippets were just awkward pieces of the songs. There isn’t a single bad song on this body of work.

She gets ambitious on “Pain” with strings and some very organic, yet dubstep-esque drops, jazzy on the Maxwell-esque “Nobody Loves Me Better”, and has her essential, big ballad (and vocal) moment on the orchestral “My Everything”. “Boxer” is a particularly notable moment. Musically, it’s driven a “We Will Rock You” drum pattern. Lyrically, it’s an anthem for not giving up.

Evolution closes on the best note possible with another highlight, “Higher Livin'”. The upbeat, chipper track is a strut-able, dancey moment and an ideally optimistic way to conclude this stellar body of work. It’s safe to say that Evolution is Anastacia’s best release since Anastacia.

Grade:

90/97

Stream Anastacia’s Evolution

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