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Album review: Charice's self-titled debut

May 10, 2010 |  7:07 pm

Charice_240_ In the 2 1/2 years since Ellen DeGeneres featured this young Filipina singer on her popular talk show, Charice has racked up an impressive number of friends in high places: She's made several appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," sung duets with Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion and signed a record deal with David Foster, the soft-pop impresario behind Josh Groban and Michael Bublé.

Today she's scheduled to appear on "Oprah" yet again, this time alongside Justin Bieber. (Like Bieber, Charice built an initial following on YouTube, where displays of precocious vocal talent are outnumbered only by videos of babies tasting lemons.)

Charice's self-titled international debut contains input from some of those powerful pals, including Foster, the set's executive producer; "Replay" singer Iyaz and such A-list songwriters as Ryan Tedder, Diane Warren and Carole Bayer Sager. Inevitably, the result darts somewhat haphazardly from sleek dance-pop tunes aimed at girls Charice's age ("I Love You," "Pyramid") to schmaltzy slow jams seemingly intended for those girls' moms ("All That I Need to Survive," "Note to God").

If "Charice" lacks any kind of stylistic focus, though, it also feels like an honest showcase of the singer's voice, with relatively uncluttered arrangements and limited vocal processing. There's nothing especially interesting about that voice beyond its technical sophistication; any character is a product of inheritance, not invention. But its strength lives up to that of her collaborators.

—Mikael Wood

Two stars (Out of four)

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