Watch out. This lady is one of those notorious copycat killers. On her second album, the New Jersey vocalist is emulating, intentionally or not, the styles of some of the most successful and distinctive black female pop singers.
The primary and most pervasive influence evident is the smoky purr of Anita Baker. You can also hear strains of Chaka Khan’s brassy shimmer and the soaring thrill-trill of Whitney Houston. But even though Bell is borrowing madly, she still slays you with her delivery.
Truth be told, Belle is quite a piece of work being herself, as she proves in stunning fashion on “Make It Like It Was.” She has a strong, expressive voice and she’s versatile, dealing well with sultry ballads (“Baby Come to Me”) or sassy jump-ups (“When Will You Be Mine”). And she may be at her best on the middle ground between those tempos, as on “What Goes Around.” This is a fine, stylish record, even if the style isn’t exclusively Belle’s. (Columbia)