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Album review: V.V. Brown's 'Travelling Like the Light'

February 8, 2010 |  5:53 pm

VVBROWN_240_  The first track on V.V. Brown's debut album is called "Quick Fix," and that turns out to be something of a watchword for this young English singer: As the latest export from a supersaturated U.K. retro-soul scene, Brown figures the best way to differentiate herself from the likes of Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele is to keep her music moving at a breakneck pace; she waits until she's halfway through the aptly titled "Travelling Like the Light" before slowing the tempo to a groove that might be described as ballad-ready.

The result is a smart, sharp little sugar high, with Brown working her slightly scuffed vocals over zippy, high-gloss arrangements loaded with ear-candy detail. "I'm crying tears from my eyes that I can't deny," she sings in "Crying Blood," yet all her music does is deny those tears. If last year's underappreciated Noisettes record, "Wild Young Hearts," didn't satisfy your desire to hear what the Hives would sound like as a hopped-up R&B band, "Travelling Like the Light" certainly will.

Perhaps inevitably, Brown relaxes her grip toward the end of the album for a handful of supper-club slow jams perfect for future placement in some CW teen soap. (The weepiest one is called "I Love You," which should let you know what you're in for.) But even when her material blands out, there's a fresh-faced charm to Brown's delivery that sets her apart from the vintage-vinyl pack. She's the rare retro-soulster unafraid to act her age.

-- Mikael Wood

V.V. Brown
 "Travelling Like the Light"
 Three stars (Out of four)

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