R&B vocalist Dionyza previously enjoyed success as a studio veteran, singing backup for Babyface, Christina Aguilera, and John B. She also performed on the High School Musical 1 and 2 soundtracks, but younger fans may best know her from the cartoon series Bratz — she provides the singing voices for the characters “Sasha” and “Jade.” Now Dionyza steps into the limelight with her debut CD Quite Like Me. With its thumping bass and Dionyza’s soft vocals, the album recalls Ashanti’s hip-hop sound.
Dionyza cites Teena Marie as an influence, which is most evident on “Stir It Up.” Her higher, hushed vocals and throbbing beat make for a serviceable dance tune. “If This Love Could Be” is a shot of disco, reminiscent of Stephanie Mills’ 70s work. Clearly Dionyza respects female soul singers from the 70s, and she enjoys paying homage to their work.
Too many other cuts, however, sound like virtually every other current R&B diva. “If It Kills” and “Whole” recall Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love.” The title track seems to follow a formula — add a beat vaguely resembling Janet Jackson’s “Nothing Really Matters,” include the requisite rap break, turn the bass way up, and feature a few electronic noises out of a Neptunes' production, and you get a ready-for-radio hit.
Dionyza’s unique voice finally surfaces on “Waiting,” a track that suits her soft vocal style. While the lyrics are the stuff of typical ballads, her layered harmonies and earnest delivery transform the song into a lovely slow jam. Add a jazz-tinged keyboard riff and a beat that doesn’t overwhelm her voice, and you get a track worthy of more established contemporary R&B singers such as Chante Moore. “Practice Makes Perfect,” although the strong bass threatens to overshadow her voice, also allows her to better utilize her wispy singing style. “Give It to Me,” although featuring a faster beat, also plays on these strengths. Her almost whispery vocals, layered over a gentle beat and jazzy chord changes, definitely show her at her best.
Dionyza has obviously built a solid reputation in the studio, and deserves her chance in the spotlight. However, the R&B diva genre is already overcrowded, and she must find her unique voice in order to stand out. While she could lean toward the hip-hop sound, as it certainly sells well, venturing in a slightly different direction may help her establish a clear musical identity. Her ability to mix jazz and R&B (with a slight hip-hop beat) remains her strength, and she could focus on further developing that talent. Quite Like Me shows flashes of that talent, but ultimately gets bogged down in trying to fit the current “top 40” formula.