“Open up your mind and take a ride.” That’s what '80’s pop-dance princess Stacey Q demurely requests of listeners as she glides into Color Me Cinnamon, her first album since 1997's marginally distributed Boomerang. Unafraid to delve into the campy melodies and arrangements that attained the two cult-favorite status throughout the “me” decade, Stacey and longtime producer Jon St. James have crafted a strong conceptual album that pays no mind to current dancefloor trends nor the iTunes pop chart.
Cinnamon gets off to a surprisingly mellow start with the contemplative “Trip.” In fact, several of the fast-paced numbers are built on understated melodies and arrangements. While this might temporarily throw danceaholics, it proves that music made for clubs can have a soul. It’s simply an approach that few artists in the genre bother exploring. Yes, it can be quite satisfying to have a conscience while rippin’ up the disco.
There’s no shortage of purely fun sonic experiences to be found in the process. “Candy Apple” is soaked in quasi-New Wave-meets-Rave synths and a repeated refrain of “Gonna rock hard, like candy.” Meanwhile, the atmospheric layers of programming on “Euphoria” handsomely complement Stacey’s command to “Work the room, comfortably numb.”
Over the course of 15 tracks, Cinnamon incorporates nuances of house, trance, and even hard rock into its core. What starts as a sublime, Art of Noise-like intro on “Going Goth” quickly transforms into a fast-paced swirl of heavy guitars and frank vocals. On the other side of the soundscape, the midtempo “Where I Am” glides into coyly sung, poppy synth-funk territory a la the singer’s 1988 cut, “Hard Machine.”
Q devotees will surely savor in every pinch of Cinnamon, and incoming passengers seeking unfiltrated pop pleasure will quickly follow suit.