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November 2009 Articles
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Issue: November 2009

Nice Try

Whatever It Takes (Mi5)
Sandra Bernhard

Actress, comedian and lesser-known musician Sandra Bernhard recently released her sixth studio album, Whatever It Takes (Mi5), which is strange at best, but somehow sonically interesting. Unfortunately for Bernhard, the vocal creativeness lags far behind.

Bernhard teamed with Ted Mason and surrounded herself with a set of talented musicians to create an eclectic mix of songs emphasizing traditional African and Indian-style song structures. Sadly, Bernhard's lackluster vocal performances are raised in the mix, distracting listeners from the background talent.

Colorful string arrangements, crying sitars and wild percussive instruments run rampant across the record, only to be blanketed by annoying, repetitive Bernhard vocal lines. The singer comes close with the album's title track when her high pitch vocals ride across soothing, doo-wop-type background vocals, a funky reggae rhythm and middle eastern-style chord changes.

"Whatever it takes my love/ I can be the stars up above/I can clear the clouds in your mind," Bernhard sings in the same repetitive melody throughout the entire song, as if the track was a three-minute chorus.

The optimism continues throughout the record. "A New World," floats along a dynamic-shifting sitar and other strange sounds with Bernhard singing "It's a new world/ leave your fears behind," during the chorus to create a song that would fit nicely on Disney's Aladdin soundtrack.

Bernhard's comedy and acting is much more engaging than her singing, but kudos to Ted Mason for attempting to tackle such a tough gig.

Need more? Try sandrabernhard.com.

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