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(AP) - Alice Smith, "She" (RainWater Recordings/Thirty Tigers)

Six years is a long time to build up anticipation.

That's how long it's been since Alice Smith released her sultry, soulful 2007 debut, "For Lovers, Dreamers & Me." With that album, the singer-songwriter was tagged with that coveted "next big thing" title. And then ... silence.

She went through the label maze, had a child, performed here and there, but "She" is her first collection of music since that promising first album.

With her sophomore album, Smith shows the promise is still there. Vocally, Smith is still a powerhouse who vacillates between smoldering and soaring; lyrically, she can still craft ear-catching couplets, like on "The One." Still, the magic that made "For Lovers" so strong, and enduring, is largely missing from "She." Technically, she gets points, but few songs on the album stir the soul quite like its predecessor: Much of the spark of that album was due to an irreverent sass that's missing here. Maybe she just grew up, but "She" sounds a bit staid at times. The most vital performance on the album is her cover of "Fool for You" by CeeLo Green- who could teach her a thing or two about vibrance.

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Follow Nekesa Mumbi Moody on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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