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Taylor Dayne's a
Little Too Satisfied

Taylor Dayne's a
Little Too Satisfied


After an extended hiatus, one of our favorite '80s pop stars is back with an album that's certainly fun but a little too easy

Taylor Dayne always outmuscled and outsexed her frillier, chilled-out contemporaries in the late '80s. Even if Debbie Gibson became the one who posed for Playboy, Dayne was the one reeking of carnal hunger in militant love anthems like "Tell it to My Heart" and "Don't Rush Me." She both invigorated and sort of scared you -- you know, like the '80s.

But 20 years later, the onetime caterwauler faces a conundrum: What now? Other than buy a flatiron, the correct answer is to release Satisfied, a textbook case of edgy-girl-gone-grownup and a fitting shelf companion to recent parlor-room bubblies from Carly Simon or Celine Dion.

Yikes. But not everything on Satisfied is watered down. Dayne's heyday has long passed, but she remains somewhat of an anomaly--a pop star who conjures that Lita Ford feistiness while ranking as a solid, bellowing balladeer. On Satisfied, she works best when her ballads and balls collide. First single "Beautiful" does the trick, with its ladies-night bounce and clap-happy chorus. Maybe its mega-positive vibe isn't everyone's taste--she does demand, "So give me whatcha got/ 'Cause you've got a lot"--but ultimately it's catchy. That's usually the bottom line with first singles.

After another bopping blast from "I'm Over My Head," a Maroon 5 dead-ringer if I ever heard one, Dayne starts the gradual, predictable slide into slower stuff. But on the way down, the album reveals an unexpected find: the almost bizarre but actually well-executed cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge." In its original version, "Under the Bridge" reflected on addiction and rejoiced in recovery. When Dayne spins it, there's an equal amount of reflection, but the regret stings more, even if a jangling piano serves as accompaniment. Weirdly enough, it's all a perfect fit for Dayne.

It's difficult to say the same regarding the album's latter half, which teems with drippier numbers like "Kissing You," featuring slow-jam drums and cooing backup singers. Officially, Dayne is renowned as a bit of a torch singer (she had the number one "Love Will Lead You Back"), but wavering full-on into Celine territory without the counterbalance of some brass just doesn't work for her. Her unmistakable identity fades into a lull. Is that really Taylor Dayne on the lovin'-life anthem "Love Chain" grudging us with lyrics like "I watch the windows as the rain falls into teardrops"? The lyric points at the persisting problem late in the album: Dayne values her command too little and cliches too much.

Satisfied isfine for Taylor devotees, and nonfans can dig the obvious single material, but the album's concept of merry contentment propels the singer nowhere intriguing. As if the title Satisfied didn't immediately sound like an announcement of tired old maturity, the majority of the disc's tracks cement that sentiment. Call me a child of I Love the '80s-but I think our formerly superpermed friend has a lot more in her than this.

Satisfied will be released February 5.

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