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Faces To Watch 2008

December 30, 2007|Ann Powers


Singer-songwriter has a voice worthy of trust

It's hard to be the girl everyone loves. George has been a treasured presence in several notable L.A. bands (most recently, Merrick and the sweet-hot jazz duo the Bird and the Bee), and she's forever popping up in interesting collaborations -- lately she been spotted duetting with actor John C. Reilly as part of his Dewey Cox act. But when she finds time, George can also stand on her own. Her songs are dreamy yet mod, pierced through with acerbic self-awareness; her voice conveys a clarity that makes you instantly trust her.

A 2005 solo album, "All Rise," gained critical kudos, but George's new project might be the one to put her in that solo spotlight she deserves. She's in the studio with her late dad Lowell's old pal Van Dyke Parks, whose last studio foray with an ascendant singer-songwriter was with Joanna Newsom, on the gorgeous, groundbreaking "Ys." For George, this is the perfect time to fly.



Rapper is quick with a quip

"Got her toes done up with her fingernails matchin' " -- this hooky sample from Three 6 Mafia posse member Project Pat, plus a cameo from her Chi-town pal Kanye West and a video featuring dancing fingertips and synchronized moves from real manicurists, has made Kid Sister's song "Pro Nails" one of the blogosphere's hot holiday commodities. Along with Lil' Mama's hit "Lip Gloss," it's part of a surge of round-the-way sass from young ladies in hip-hop, reminiscent of both late 1990s Girl Power and pioneering rappers such as Roxanne Shante.

Kid Sister is more than a novelty act. Born Melissa Young and the older sibling of Flosstradamus DJ J2K, she has a lilting flow and a talent for firing off rapid one-liners. Plus, her DJ (and sweetie) is A-Trak, West's touring turntablist and a producer with a disarmingly light and clever touch. Look for Kid Sister's full-length debut on A-Trak's new label, Fool's Gold, sometime soon.



R&B singer-songwriter aims high

Let's hope Terius Nash isn't spreading himself too thin. After blessing Rihanna with the year's most shimmering single, "Umbrella," the Atlanta-based writer came up with the definitive slow jam for fall: J. Holiday's "Bed." Now, under his stage name, The-Dream, Nash has released "Love/Hate," a solo album full of cunning beats and Prince references that has sinewy-voiced Nash warbling his way toward ecstasy.

The-Dream reinvigorates love-man cliches by showing some genuine sensitivity without compromising the raunch that the genre pretty much demands. His hit paean to a favorite working girl, "Shawty Is a 10," is one high point on an album-length exploration of carnality that's as sonically smooth as late-period Marvin Gaye and almost as odd as R. Kelly. Nash's falsetto sometimes turns into a tic, but it's luscious enough to still please. Hey, maybe those high notes could replace T-Pain's vocoder croon as the track decoration of '08.

-- Ann Powers

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