New article about her in USA

Spreading her wings
Indonesian pop princess Anggun seeks to conquer the American charts with her soulful new album, the brilliant ‘Chrysalis’

for Pulse

At the age of seven, what were you doing?

Visiting the doctor to get the jelly bean removed from your left nostril? Chucking Legos at your little sister? Hiding your animal-shaped vitamins behind the couch?

Unlike most children, Indonesian singer Anggun Cipta Sasmi was working on her first recording.

Influenced by western artists such as The Police, Elvis Presley and Bon Jovi, Anggun produced six chart-topping albums before she turned 18.

But having success in her homeland of Indonesia wasn’t enough — the exotic alto also dreamed of an international career.

So she packed up and, without knowing one word of French, made Paris her new home. Once there, she met Erick Benzi, the producer who unleashed the sound of Celine Dion on the United States.

"Snow on the Sahara," her international debut, sold more than a million copies. The haunting but energetic title track had people asking, "Who is THAT?"

But that was back in 1998, and I hoped that when I decided to review her new album, people would have some recollection of hearing her name before.

To my dismay, the only reactions I got were:

"What? I’ve never heard of her."

"An-gooon? What’s an An-gooon?"

And my personal favorite, "Is she hot?"

"Chrysalis," the newest release from Anggun, proves to be well worth the cash spent on it.

Not only does it have a full track list — a whopping 15 songs — but the album also manages to cover subjects other than love.

In "Tears of Sorrow," she explores human nature and our tendency only to accept people who are like us.

Some of the lyrics read, "We build up walls with no shame/We turn away if you’re not one of us/But I thought, there’s one color in our blood."

Similarly, in "How the World," she wonders how the world keeps working when we turn our backs to people’s suffering.

To her credit, Anggun manages to make her point without sounding preachy or pessimistic. The songs are performed in an upbeat, playful fashion.

Anggun proves that spirituality and faith are important in "A Prayer," "Look into Yourself" and "Signs of Destiny." These songs, while verging on religious, can be enjoyed by religious and secular listeners alike.

Finally, for the closet romantics of the world, there are multiple lovey-dovey songs to sing along to without feeling like a total sap.

The first track, "Still Remember," speaks of ongoing changes that refuse to suffocate the love one pines for. With its soaring melody and conviction, this song will melt the heart of even the iciest princess.

"Want You to Want Me" delivers a painful dream of lust by way of ominous piano melodies played by Anggun herself.

While this song is mysterious and breath-taking, its melancholy message is clear: Don’t think you can fool her. She knows all about your unbridled passions for Heath Ledger, Britney Spears and others of impossible status.

And if you’re in the mood to dance, listen to the title track, "Chrysalis."

True, the song still has a lustful edge, but in it she points out that while women can be sweet, patient and tender, they also can be heart-breaking vixens at the same time.

In "Non Angelica!" Anggun proves her point once again. Throughout the track, she seems to be laughing at a friend who doesn’t see that he’s being trampled upon.

But instead of taking the conventional role of "jealous female with ulterior motives" Anggun simply points out what he’s not seeing. "She’s so hypocritical/She talks illogical/non Angelica."

To add one last twist to the mix, tracks 13 and 15 contain brilliantly sung French lyrics.

While the only French words in my vocabulary are "Moulin Rouge" and "croissant," Anggun’s everlasting conviction makes the emotions radiantly clear.

Unfortunately, the album has a couple negative aspects. First, some of the songs are hard to differentiate — she almost sounds like she’s repeating herself at times.

Also, because the songs are generally geared for female listeners, males may find it harder to relate.

And because this album is an import, it could cost upwards of $30.

But throughout the CD, Anggun’s voice soars without ever going above her range. She separates herself from the cliched world of pop by adding her own spiciness and funk.

Soulful, strong and heart-felt, these songs are easy to relate to and full of conviction. Anggun has the makings of a genuine star ... if only people knew who she was.

From - Archive of 5th October 2001