Reviewer: Helen Jones
Isabela Moner started acting at the age of seven, made her Broadway debut at the age of ten in Evita and by 13 was well known for her rôle in a show on the Nickelodean channel. Now at the age of 14, her first album, Stopping Time, has been released. There is a nod to her musical theatre experience in the track list, with a version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, but the majority of the tracks are covers of pop songs from the last twenty years.
Moner has a beautiful voice, but she sounds like the teenager she is, complete with the catches in her voice. Opening with Moby’s Dream About Me the arrangement leaves her sounding like an Amy Winehouse wannabe. Thankfully other tracks show that she can do more. Her version of Oasis’ Wonderwall is pleasant to listen to and she makes Beyonce’s Halo into a nice ballad. Unfortunately on tracks like Duffy’s Mercy, the arrangement doesn’t give her the opportunity to actually put the necessary rhythm into the recording. When she seems to channel Katie Melua for the track The Boy From Ipanema, she finally appears to find something that suits her and the uptempo track Bring The Future Faster shows that she can do more with her voice. However her version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina only emphasises that she simply does not have the experience or tonal development to bring the emotion needed into the song. Eva is a woman who has seen the dark side of life and it shows in her voice, this one is too neat and clean.
The arrangements are the biggest problem with Stopping Time, almost every track is a similar tempo and a similar sound, meaning that while it is pleasant and mellow to listen to, there is nothing that stands out and makes you want to listen again. There are no really bad tracks, but there are no dramatic highs either, making this rather bland as a whole.
Isabela Moner undoubtedly has a wonderful voice, but this album only showcases a limited version of it. Over the years there have been many teenage pop stars, from Tiffany to Taylor Swift, some more successful and long lasting than others. Regrettably this album will not be the one to make Isabela Moner stand out from the crowds
Album available from Broadway Records