February 01, 1991 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it a D

Tara Kemp makes new-jack swing music that doesn’t swing. Her debut album, Tara Kemp includes all that style’s danceable ingredients — R&B pop, hip-hop, and club beats — but they come out with two left feet. Then again, it would be wrong simply to blame Kemp for this. Her voice is no more than serviceable and her songwriting undistinguished: She’s more a spokesmodel for the record than anything else. Greater energy seems to have been put into the production end of things. On several tracks the Bay Area singer doesn’t even appear; she’s supplanted by a collage of samples. It’s almost as if the neophyte production team of Tuhin Roy and Jake Smith have constructed the record as a kind of aural résumé, meant to show the industry how many club-tested styles they can blandly imitate. The results tell us nothing about the people involved-except that they wish they sounded like anybody who has a hit.

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