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The "Two of Hearts" siren returns to pop-dance form on her first full-length in 13 years.

Stacey Q – Color Me Cinnamon

“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.

Color Me Cinnamon can be purchased at StaceyQonline and CDBaby.

About Justin Kantor

Justin Kantor is a music journalist with a passion for in-depth artist interviews and reviews. Most of his interviews for Blogcritics can be heard on his Blog Talk Radio program, "Rhythmic Talk." Justin's work has been published in Wax Poetics, The All-Music Guide, and SoulMusic.com. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Music Business and Management program, he honed his writing chops as a teenager—publishing "The Hip Key" magazine from 1992-1996. The publication, which was created out of his childhood home in Virginia Beach, reached a circulation of 10,000 by the time he was 16. At Berklee, Justin continued to perfect his craft with a series of 'Underrated Soul' features for The Groove from 1997-2003. This led to a companion TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in 2002, as well as writing for the national Dance Music Authority (DMA). A self-described "obscure pop, dance, and R&B junkie," Justin also has penned liner notes for reissue labels such as Edsel Records and FunkyTownGrooves. He's excited to be a part of the BlogCritics team and indulge his musical fancies even further. Connect with him at his Facebook page, or via [email protected]

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