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Freshcut

‘Beautiful Surprise’ Tamia

Tamia, whose voice is one of music’s most powerful – and underrated – should be among the ranks of divas like Aretha, Chaka, Mariah and Beyoncé. But her 14-year career hasn’t translated to chart-topping songs and multiplatinum album sales.

Despite that, the R&B songstress – best known for the hits “Stranger in My House” and “Into You” with Fabolous – has released four outstanding albums, including her stellar 1998 self-titled debut, which featured production work by Quincy Jones and Jermaine Dupri. Tamia’s fifth release, “Beautiful Surprise,” is another consistent effort, filled with soulful ballads and midtempo grooves.

The album’s biggest – and best – surprise is Tamia’s take on country music. She nicely remakes Wynonna Judd’s “Is It Over Yet,” and “Still” is a beautiful, twang-inspired version of a song from her third album, “More.” Her bold leap into a new genre makes up for some of the album’s shortcomings, including the lukewarm first single and title track, produced by frequent Amy Winehouse collaborator Salaam Remi.

– Stacy A. Anderson, Associated Press

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