POP MUSIC REVIEW : Alison Moyet: Soul and Fire

There's little more exciting in pop music than seeing an artist achieve a creative breakthrough in mid-career. That was the sight at the Variety on Monday, as English singer Alison Moyet gave an acoustic concert marked by a sense of buoyant confidence and self-discovery.

Closing her U.S. tour with a show postponed from last Thursday due to a sore throat, Moyet shook off the ill-fitting electro-pop of her past and the nagging doubts about her vision and direction.

She's always had two things going for her: a powerful alto voice, and a refusal to cave in to the shallow glamour-consciousness of the pop world. She dares to be frumpy, and more power to her. But her music, both in Yazoo and on her first two so-so solo albums, failed to show other dimensions.

That changed with last year's "Hoodoo," her first album in four years. With the help of producer Pete Glenister, she found a more basic, soulful sound that suited her, and wrote songs that recounted her development of inner strength. The acoustic setting Monday took it even more to the basics. Moyet sang with soul and fire, pranced about with bubbly joy, hugged and kissed the dozen or so fans who brought flowers and gifts to the stage.

In addition to her own songs, she performed a revival-tent-worthy "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," a dramatic Jacques Brel number in French, a downright rockin' version of Led Zep's "Rock 'n' Roll" and an encore of "Chain of Fools." Each number was drastically different, but all were done by a performer who looked as if she knows she's just hitting her stride.

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