During a time when Britpop bands like Blur and Oasis were making headway on America’s rock charts, British soul music was wrapping up it’s own invasion. Music from Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Caron Wheeler and Lisa Stansfield were having considerable success on American pop and R&B charts.
While The Brand New Heavies and Lisa Stansfield were often at opposite ends of the charts, artist like Cathy Dennis filled in the middle. Except for the emphasis on house music styles, there was nothing distinctively British about her debut album Move To This.
She did represent a kind of coming of age for British Soul, but not in the way you might think. Despite her somewhat child like voice, the lavish production that surrounded her represented a kind of corporate assimilation at the price of national distinction.
If you could image Dennis’ vocal tracks removed, the music on Move To This could have been interchanged with just about any Martha Wash or CeeCee Penniston album of the time. There was a growing contingent of American R&B artist who were being influenced by international club culture. Move To This had a sound that was squarely in the middle of this trend from a British perspective.
On Move To This Dennis used an international cast of producers (most of them American) who created a slick club sound with American R&B undertones. The team included Dennis herself as well as Shep Pettibone and Nile Rodgers.
Many of the songs are underlined with the kind of bouncy bass-lines made popular by Nelie Hooper for Soul II Soul and later Loose Ends. The similarities with other British soul would end there as Move To This featured club ready songs that were well written with wide pop appeal.
The big break out hit ‘Just Another Dream’ featured backup vocals from D Mob (who sounded remarkably like Rick Astley). It was enough to put the song in the American Top 10 during the height of Rick Astely’s popularity. Another hit on the dance chart, ‘All Night Long’, may be the only other song most people know Dennis from.
The success of Move To This prompted Dennis to cater to American audiences with a more mainstream pop approach only to switch up later with more sophisticated material. Despite the changes in her career and the critical acclaim some of it garnered, it all seemed to comeback to the hits from Move To This. Her last album from 2000 draws heavily from her debut with remixes, but Move To This remains her strongest collection of dance pop and is an excellent (if not somewhat generic) example of early ’90s dance pop.