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Keshia Chanté has been Canada’s most promising pop princess ever since she released Juno Award-winning self-titled debut album when she was just sweet 16. Like most princesses, she grew up in public, singing songs about crushes on boys she met at the mall. Meanwhile, she acted, modeled and took on charity and product endorsements for youth-oriented brands like Pepsi and Smarties. Her followup, 2006’s 2U, failed to capitalize on her rising profile, so Chanté retreated to retool her music career while appearing in Da Kink in My Hair and starring as the lead actress in TV’s Soul series.
Now Chanté is back—and all grown up—with her third album, Night & Day. Musically edgier and lyrically more sophisticated, the album’s 14 tracks move the Ottawa-born singer into the Beyoncé and Rihanna world of pop and R&B. Two numbers, previously released as singles, tackle mature themes. “Test Drive” imagines test-driving a relationship before getting in too deep, while “Table Dancer” is a sexy come on over a pulsing beat. “Come on closer into my world,” sings Chanté invitingly, “show you all the reasons why I’m your favorite girl.” There’s a darker sound, especially on “Set U Free” and Chanté’s spunky rejection of a philandering boyfriend, “Edit, Cut & Delete U.”
Night & Day still has its fair share of romantic ballads that have always been among Chanté’s trademarks. In “Hush,” she counsels a guy to be real and not fake his feelings, while “Pillow Talk” amounts to Chanté’s first breathless bedroom number (in real life, she’s romantically linked with Chicago Black Hawks goaltender Ray Emery, who appeared as the love interest in her “Test Drive” video). But the album boasts predominantly uptempo, club-ready dance tracks like “Shooting Star” and “Victorious,” two song titles that accurately describe Chanté’s current trajectory. “I’m on top of the world,” she sings in the latter, “ain’t no mountain I can’t climb.” With such brazen confidence, Chanté’s future seems well assured.