In 1997, Stacy Ferguson, once a member of Kids Incorporated, released an album along with Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel. This girl group's eponymously titled album was Wild Orchid. A million copies rapidly spread out into the world, elevating the album to gold status quickly. You might remember the Billboard Award winning track 'Talk To Me,' which still sounds current if you take a listen. In fact, most tracks on Wild Orchid still sound really fresh.
Wild Orchid toured with N'Sync and 98 Degrees, and eventually released their second album Oxygen in 1998. It didn't do as well, but the golden pipes that these three girls had were still shining as they toured with Cher and Cyndi Lauper.
Their 2001 single Stuttering did alright on the Top 40 charts, but the end was near. Two years later, Stacy Ferguson would join The Black Eyed Peas under the name Fergie. And now, three years after that, Fergie brings us her first solo album The Dutchess.
I'm not a Peas fan, but I've been a Wild Orchid groupie for a long time. Stacy was always my favorite voice because, plain and simple, the girl can blow. I met them in '97 ( I've written about that before ) and her voice was the biggest of the bunch.
The Dutchess is for the most part unlike that awful single 'London Bridge' that's been polluting the airwaves. There are a number of tracks where Stacy is singing, not Fergie. There are smooth R&B cuts, ballads, and some truly beautiful music.
The 'bonus' version I have contains 15 tracks. A bonus song titled 'Close to You' showcases her quiet storm voice, swelling from soft whispery lyrics into full wails of soul. A little more upbeat, the track 'Paradise' is catchy and fun with steel drums, guitars, and a really great hook. 'Paradise' better be remixed soon.
A very Morcheeba-esque 'Velvet' steams the set up with sultry vocals and a driving bass kick and rim-shot. There's tons of floating harmony throughout that somehow makes this a bedroom track. On the ballad-pop tip, 'Big Girls Don't Cry' is so very Wild Orchid, I almost thought Renee and Stefanie were in the background.
My spotlight track is 'Losing My Ground.' The lyrics on this track clearly come from the heart of a person who has been through a lot and is confused about which direction to turn. It's a plight we can all relate to. Her vocals are flawless, accompanied by classical guitar and strings. The big finish is full of vocal riffs and lots of hollering. Right up my alley.
And hey everyone, come out and meet me, Amy Matheny, and a bunch of other Queercasters at our Windy City Queercast Bowling Party on October 21 right here in Chicago at Waveland Bowl. For tickets and more details, visit windycityqueercast.com .
With you in 4/4,