"Dangerously in Love" (Columbia)
"Dangerously in Love"? The song (technically titled "Dangerously in Love 2") is about being romantically obsessed, but it doesn't feel a bit perilous or crazy. It's just one of many wailing ballads designed to show off the soulful bleating of Beyonce, the centerpiece of R&B star trio Destiny's Child. Her solo debut (due in stores today) demonstrates vocal finesse with everything from a low-in-the-throat purr to a piercing disco falsetto. But, especially on the ballads, she often drags things out with diva acrobatics, and this insistence on reminding us she can sing quickly grows tiresome.
It takes a raft of guest stars (Jay-Z, Sean Paul, Big Boi, Missy Elliott, etc.) and some liberal (and credited) borrowing from classics by Shuggie Otis, DeBarge and others to stitch together this by-the-numbers showcase. Beyonce has some producing credits but, judging from the mostly high-fashion shots in the CD booklet, she seems to have spent more time planning her look than planning her message.
Mostly what she says, in varying degrees of urgency and tenderness, is that she wants to get it on. Indeed, such sexy dance tunes as the vintage funk-flavored "Crazy in Love," the deliberately Donna Summer-esque "Naughty Girl" and the reggae- and house-spiced "Baby Boy" successfully meld her breathy cooing with hip, interesting production. But even the upbeat numbers become repetitive.