Denters is no album artist, yet, but a couple of these tracks could be great singles.
Mike Diver 2010-01-11
New year, not-so-new pop: Esmée Denters may only be taking her first steps in the UK market, having enjoyed success in her native Netherlands, but this debut album is remarkably homogenised, tracing the outlines of several stateside RnB stars and rarely leaving an impression of its own.
Outta Here’s punchy title track has breached our domestic top ten, but it’s tough indeed to declare with any authority that another of these offerings is capable of matching its performance. Follow-up Admit It – a Destiny’s Child/Beyoncé pastiche of tumbling percussion and elevated vocals that shimmies with predictable, perfunctory flair – has (so far) stalled outside the top 40, suggesting Denters’ steam may have whistled free before this campaign’s really got simmering.
Ryan Tedder-penned number Victim could do for Denters here what Bleeding Love did for Leona in the US, given its lyrical leanings – vulnerability of tone played off against confident, defiant content – and slow-build-and-release dynamic, harmonic shifts subtle but potent nonetheless. It’s this album’s classiest moment. Frequent contributions from Justin Timberlake, both vocally and in songwriting terms, also work in this record’s favour: such is the level of the man’s celebrity that Outta Here will attract some plaudits purely based on Timberlake’s initial recognition of Denters’ talent.
Love Dealer is introduced by Timberlake in provocative fashion, but his breathily suggestive vocals dominate the mix when contrasted with Denters’ lead lines, and ultimately comprise the most memorable aspect of the experience. That’s not intended to imply the girl lacks ability, but swap her contributions with those of any number of similarly stylised singers and the overall effect is the same. And this is something that runs Outta Here’s length. Despite accomplished modern pop structures from the likes of Toby Gad and the Stargate team, Denters doesn’t possess presence enough to make the songs her own.
Ballads Gravity and The First Thing should be where Denters shines, arrangements there primarily to support limelight vocals, but neither sparkles as it should. Getting Over You and Casanova are more akin to Outta Here – shiny, efficient, but hollow exercises in a box-ticking routine of little imagination.
Outta Here’s stringent adherence to contemporary pop/RnB conventions is its undoing. A couple of tracks, Victim particularly, could leave a significant mark on the singles chart, but as an album artist Denters has a long way to go before she’s ranked alongside the true pop idols she evidently envies.