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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Beautiful Now CD Cover
Image © Sweet Woo Music 2004  

(25 September 2005) Edgy, pop singer/songwriter Maria Christensen has recently released her first indie album, Beautiful Now. Her music is a mix of soul, pop and rock, combining live and electronic elements into her tunes. Maria's songwriting expertise has led to her music being recorded by artists such as Celine Dion, N'Sync and Jennifer Lopez.

The Miami native first came to New York to sign a record deal with Atlantic Records after being discovered by Grammy Award winning producer Ric Wake. She landed a publishing deal with W&R Music and composed songs and sang background vocals for artists such as Celine Dion, Kristine W. and N'Sync. She went on to sign with A&M Records as the lead singer of a group named 3rd Party. The group toured the country and appeared on television shows such as "Live with Regis and Kathy Lee," "The Today Show" and "The Ru Paul Show." She has also recently been recommended by Culture Vulture Jai Rodriguez after her appearance on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

Her current album has an energy and passion, reflecting her earthy, soulful vocals. According to Maria, this ten track album has a common theme of "spirituality and then, saying something. I wanted to say something about who I am, or give some encouragement. I just didn't want to make an album that said, 'Oh, I'm just gonna go to a party.' or 'I'm just gonna have sex,' or 'I'm just gonna mess around.' There's so much of that out there; I don't need to compete with that. I don't want to, and that's not who I feel I am. I mean, yeah, I think that some of the album is sexy, but it's not sleazy. But I guess the theme of "Beautiful Now" is yeah, we all go through hard times, but it can be good. Like, the song "Amazing" is just talking about having a good day. And, you know, I wasn't faking any of those songs. They are all very real to me. They are all a part of me."

The first track,"Hello," is a great intro to a great set of songs. Her R&B and down-to-earth sound continue with "For Real." The song is about being direct and not being a phony. Maria touts herself as a straightforward individual and that is what the song is all about. Her title track, "Beautiful Now," is a stunning song about something good coming out of something bad. Maria said, The second half (of the song) is about my mom, who never thought she was beautiful. And then she came to the realization that she was beautiful. When she was growing up, she wasn't a very attractive little girl... and she turned into such a beautiful woman." The lyrics and melody are straight-shooting and catchy.

The more tender "Life Without You" and "Come Around" showcase her powerful, unpretentious vocals. "Amazing" speaks about having a good day, and Maria certainly was having one when singing this song. The melody has a pithy edginess to its rhythm. "Someone to Someone" is another standout track, talking about relationships. She sings with a straightforward emotion. "Love Cliche" and the more rocky "One Too Many Times" are well-crafted songs with catchy, high energy melodies. She closes with the soulful and candid "Got His Love."

Maria is a dynamo when it comes to songwriting and performing her knockout music. Her bold approach to her music makes you realize why top artists are after her expertise. She spent the better part of last summer writing for and with Ricky Martin for his upcoming CD. It is wonderful that Maria herself is now in the limelight with her impressive Beautiful Now.--Audrey Elliot in New York

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