Release Date: 09.10.02
Record label: BMG / Logic
She Has Survived
by: matt cibula
Gloria Gaynor is one of the few disco-era singers who can be called an Icon, albeit mostly for one song. But what a song! "I Will Survive" (VH1's "Greatest Dance Song of All Time") is certainly monolithic -- it's been recorded 231 different times -- but it's a tragedy that most people don't know more about the song's original singer. Has everyone forgotten her version of "Never Can Say Goodbye"?
With this new album, which could fairly be called a "comeback" record, Gaynor had several different options. She could have gone for indie cred and recorded edgy freaky stuff; imagine that beautiful voice on an Alec Empire track, or duetting with Kool Keith! She could have gone jazz (she's got the chops) or easy listening (ditto). She could have even gone extra-campy and done a "Disco Redux" project, mining her reputation and the pockets of her biggest fans.
Fortunately, she's chosen the third path on I Give You Love. This is a discofied r&b album with a savvy sense of modern technology. Most of the songs here follow the general template of "All the Man": simple, mellow dance music with one foot in the 70s (lush synth strings, loping Philly bass) and the other in the now (hip-hop production techniques, house music song structures). Gaynor's voice floats above these uptempo numbers the same way it did almost thirty years ago: rich, full, prettier than it has a right to be. The rest of the album finds her in ballad-mode; songs like "I Never Knew" (the first single) and "Let It Rain" are slow-jam fodder of the first order.
It isn't a very challenging album -- some of the "new" production touches here sound like my favorite Cathy Dennis and Dancin' Danny D albums from the early 1990s -- but it's solid and fun. And Gaynor has a couple of tricks up her sleeve yet; the title track is pleasantly modern electrofunk, and "Stronger" features a steamy GG vocal -- both tracks are anchored by producer Rob Fusari's Timbaland-ish bounce, and both sound very up-to-date indeed.
Overall, I Give You Love is a very credible r&b dance album for adults. It might reestablish Gaynor as an important singer who deserves her second-act success. Its lack of rough edges (and lyrical slackness) might be a problem for some people, though. Bonus points for the bonus disc, which features two live versions of "I Will Survive" (one in Spanglish), and a Hex Hector remix of "I Never Knew," which pumps up the jam quite nicely. 29-Aug-2002 11:00 PM