Pop-music has long been obsessed with youthfulness, with the industry primed to constantly ply the public with a steady stream of fresh young faces. It is not a business that is overly friendly to the even relatively mature performer. At thirty-two years of age, Anastacia Newkirk was not the most likely candidate to become one of pop’s breakthrough acts in 2000. Helped by a big voice disguised by a diminutive five-foot-two frame, the mononymous Anastacia offered an adult alternative to the bubble-gum pop of the day, something she continues to do with her seventh studio album, Evolution.
Much like her previous records, Evolution places Anastacia’s powerful mezzo-soprano at the centre of proceedings with the music providing an eclectic – yet coherent – blend of electronic and dance, funk and soul, and rock and pop. So perhaps Evolution is a bit of a misnomer, but Anastacia’s music does continue to provide a refreshing – if not fresh – alternative to the usual pop offerings. Lead single, Caught in the Middle is a tight little dance-pop number that shines in its brevity. The track’s major shortcoming is the unnecessary use of auto-tune, an effect artists and producers would do well to forget is available.
Redlight features an excellent vocal performance while expanding the sonic palette with piano and funk/soul-inflected guitars, Stamina grooves along well, and the drums pop on Nobody Loves Me Better. At a mere three-minutes, My Everything is too long and overwrought, with the former fault being one that mars Evolution overall. Boomerang and Higher Livin’ make valiant attempts to lift the album’s energy towards the end, but don’t do enough to distract from the slog of making it to the last track. With Evolution, Anastacia continues to offer a solid alternative to mainstream pop although it won’t see her racing back up the charts.