Paula Cole got her start as a backup singer for Peter Gabriel, and though Gabriel returns the favor on This Fire's "Hush, Hush, Hush," Cole's sophomore album is all about the singer and her myriad neuroses and artsy impulses. Like its promising predecessor, 1994's Harbinger, This Fire is occasionally marred by an angst overload and Cole's tendency to over-emote on tragically titled songs like "Nietzsche's Eyes." But Cole's voice is the reason most of her fans will buy This Fire, and it's the reason uninitiated fans of fluttery-voiced songbirds like Sarah McLachlan would be well-advised to pick it up as well. Cole isn't afraid to let it rip—sometimes too much so—and while that mars songs like "Nietzsche's Eyes," it helps temper Cole's tendency to pour on self-pitying vulnerability. This Fire doesn't do much to build on Harbinger, but fans should still enjoy it.

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