What’s the skinny?

Ms. Dynamite
A Little Deeper
Release date: March 11, 2003 (out now)
What the label says: “Dynamite possesses a truly beautiful voice, a honeyed and versatile delivery that contrasts richly with her fearsome chatting and witty MC banter.”
What this reviewer says: London’s Ms. Dynamite is better than the majority of the R&B out there today. Her beats are hip-hop and her lyrics are, for the most part, personal and intelligent. Look out, Beyonce.
Similar artists: Lauryn Hill, Mystic
Sample lyrics: “Now who gives a damn about the ice on your ur hand/ if it’s not 2 complex tell me how many Africans died 4 the baguettes on ur Rolex?” – “It Takes More”
Best song: “Dy-na-mi-tee”
Worst song: “Watch Over Them”
Rating: 7/10

Release date: April 8, 2003 (out now)
What the label says: “The album is a stirring collection of radio-ready rockers, a potent, passionate mix of infectious melodies, guitars that crunch and jangle, and fiery vocals”.
What this reviewer says: Like a 3 Doors Down side project. These guys look and sound like robots programmed to make post-30 women swoon with their melodic crap rock. They are friends with Creed. Seriously.
Similar artists: Matchbox 20, Stone Temple Pilots
Sample lyrics: “There’s a hole in the neighborhood where I go when I feel misunderstood/ Sit alone and wonder about what I am, who I am” – “Hole”
Best song: “That’s O.K.”
Worst song: “Fame”
Rating: 2/10

Lizzie West
Holy Road … Freedom Songs
Warner Bros
Release date: April 22, 2003
What the label says: “Almost literally the work of a lifetime, ‘Holy Road … Freedom Songs’ … is the culmination of an extraordinary personal, spiritual and artistic odyssey, travel notes from a vagabond troubadour, the questions and answers of a poet traveling home.”
What this reviewer says: If Jewel took a road trip and kept a journal about her travels in which she listened to a lot of Beth Orton and Janis Joplin and then set her poems to Sublime-esque acoustic electronic backgrounds, then you would have something that resembled Lizzie West. She’s treading the fine line between ani difranco and Kylie Minogue, which was not meant to be treaded.
Similar artists: Beth Orton, Coffee shop performers everywhere
Sample lyrics: “Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep/ I am a thousand winds that flow, I am sunlight on ripened grain, I am gentle autumn’s rain” – “Prayer”
Best song: “Dusty Turnaround”
Worst song: “Monkey Back Blues”
Rating: 3/10

Gus Black
Uncivilized Love
Immergent Records
Release date: May 20, 2003
What the label says: “Warm acoustic guitar melodies, string and piano arrangements and passionate, heartfelt lyrics create an intimate feel throughout the 13 tracks on the CD.”
What this reviewer says: It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just not anything really. The songs are so similar in their harmless pop sound that each song seems to blend into the others. The only thing that catches your ear is when you realize that, yes, he is covering Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” in a slow, sentimental Tori Amos type way. For my money, Steel Pole Bath Tub does a much meaner version.
Similar artists: Ryan Adams, Pete Yorn
Sample lyrics: “I got my mojo working, but it just don’t work on you” – “1 2 3 4 5”
Best song: “Paranoid”
Worst song: “Paranoid”
Rating: 5/10