** 1/2 MICA PARIS "Contribution" Island

Paris might not be as boldly innovative as fellow Brits Soul II Soul or U.K.-based upstarts like Neneh Cherry and Terence Trent D'Arby, but when her alluring single "My One Temptation" became a hit in 1988, Paris seemed as appealing a practitioner of black pop as you were likely to find. Alternately cool and earthy, the 22-year-old seemed a Dionne Warwick-esque soul siren in the works.

Three years later, Paris has delivered a second album that is filled with enough strong songs and able production work to keep those wheels in motion. If only Paris' own performances were as authoritative as the music she's surrounded herself with. As it is, Paris is a pleasant enough singer--albeit with the most nasal voice this side of Keith Sweat. But she just doesn't have enough surprises and forward-thinking ideas in her arsenal to keep things interesting.

Potentially great songs like "South of the River" and the Soul II Soul-flavored title track need a less controlled and more expressive singer to give them knock-your-socks-off impact--somebody with modern sensibilities, but the redemptive powers of a '70s-era Chaka Khan. For all of her sophisticated allure and ambition, Paris hasn't yet evolved into that.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).

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