June 29, 1998 12:00 PM

Brandy (Atlantic)

On her TV sitcom Moesha, Brandy Norwood is trapped between adolescence and womanhood. On this, her sophomore CD, the conflict seems more creative than biological; the 19-year old singer-actress is struggling to find her own niche in the competitive world of rhythm and blues. It’s a daunting task because, as appealing as Brandy is, she isn’t the strongest vocalist. That becomes clear on the single “The Boy Is Mine.” The melodic squabble by two girls over a guy is pure joy, but Brandy’s duet partner, fellow teen R&B star Monica, all but steals the song away. Despite her thin, often nasal tone, however, Brandy is sometimes capable of dipping into a husky, lower register, which she uses to great advantage on the slinky title track and the swaying “Learn the Hard Way.” Ultimately, though, this feels like an overly long album (16 tracks) driven by the force of Brandy’s persona but held back by the limitations of her skills.

Bottom Line: Don’t give up the day job, girl

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