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Ayla Brown sings it, well, like a senator's daughter

By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010; C10

She's available. And so is her new EP.

Ayla Brown, the aspiring 21-year-old pop singer, former "American Idol" semifinalist and daughter of Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.), announced the surprise release of her new EP, "Circles," on Tuesday, presumably in an attempt to take advantage of her father's recent spike in visibility.

Originally scheduled for an April release, the five-song offering is available on iTunes, where customer comments range from "She is very talented" to "these are some of the worst songs i've ever heard."

How about both? Brown's voice is agreeable enough, but Lady Gaga need not be looking over her padded shoulder. Over the course of the recording, Brown sounds as if she's emulating that cloying strand of '90s soft-pop that emulated '80s soft-pop -- a vicious cycle.

Studious "American Idol" fans recognized Brown when her dad accepted his freshly won Senate seat earlier in the month, thanking his two daughters by declaring, "Yes, they're both available." For Ayla, that was probably a touch more humiliating than when Simon Cowell gave her the cold shoulder on the fifth season of "American Idol." The singer belted tunes by Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion and Natasha Beddingfield before eventually being voted off the show.

Brown's label, Double Deal Brand Records, describes her new music as "r&b/dance-infused." Vanilla-pop/toe-tap-infused might be more apt. The singer co-wrote four of the recording's five tunes, with lyrics that are as squeaky clean as you'd expect from a senator's daughter.

"No More" is a thin, synthesizer-laden ditty about breaking up, while "Pick It Up" offers a soaring crescendo about surviving said breakup. Brown sounds most assured on "Absolutely Everybody," a zippy number about the universal need for . . . health care? No, it's about the universal need for love. "Everybody needs a hand to hold," she sings. "Someone to cling to when the nights are getting cold."

She adds a pinch of sass to the mix with the hip-hop flair of "I'm So Happy," but it doesn't match her lyrics. The singer is apparently "so happy" because her five-year relationship has resulted in a marriage proposal. It's all she "ever wanted."

She also sounds as though she wants a career in pop music. If her dad continues to dominate the headlines, it isn't out of the question.

Viva pop-wonk synergy!

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