***Warning*** Not for rabid Dion Fans! I can understand the music companies wanting to protect their copyright, but I can't understand why they would want to slit honest customers throats - if they want to, however, so be it! I, for one, WILL NEVER buy a copy protected CD. Sony, for instance, seems to be using CD protection on their cash cows like Celine Dion, Shakira, J.LO and others. CDs released by lesser known artists on the Sony Music roster are not copy protected! What's more is that you'll get a lesser known artist on the same label who actually is better, than her better known counterpart. Take for instance, Celine Dion. Her ‘A New Day Has Come’ CD is not bad, but it isn't great either, it's still safe and there's hardly any growth at all from Celine's earlier CDs! However, all is not lost as you can use the opportunity to locate lesser known artists on the same label (who have CDs without copy protection) that DESERVE a closer look! Take another look at Sony Music's roster of artists and if you like big voiced singers, you won't have to look far to find an artist who is not only as big voiced as Dion is, but is a far better singer, technically. One such artist is Tina Arena. Not only has Arena got a fabulous voice, she actually knows how to sing, has a uniquely powerful yet extremely sweet sounding ethereal voice, is not afraid of being subtle and can literally throw emotions at you - check her rendition of Maria McKee's ‘Show Me Heaven’ out and you'll know what I’m talking about! She's an easy authority as a vocalist and can easily be placed alongside Elaine Paige, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Linda Ronstadt. Tonally, though she reminds me of a mix of various artists. She's sultrier than Olivia Newton John, almost as powerful as Dion or Houston and like them can belt for eternity, but rarely chooses to do so. Has the killer purity of tone that Lea Salonga has and is as sweet voiced as the afore mentioned Salonga and Alana Davis. There is also an Enyaesq ethereal component in her voice and one final thing – she has a killer vocal range, not quite as expansive as Mariah Carey's 7 octaves, but has at least a 5 1/2 to 6 octave vocal range! What's even more impressive is her ability to use any combination of the above to produce a number of voices on demand! However, because Arena’s subtle (there’s no bland use of power or vocal gymnastics here, folks), she may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to me, she's much better than Dion is. Each of her (Arena's) CDs has shown three things - musical, vocal and lyrical growth. How often do you find a real record of growth (of an artist) from the first CD, to the second, to the third and to the fourth? Review: Tina Arena – ‘Just Me’ Where as Dion's new CD shows just a hint of trying out something different whilst obviously still trying to play it safe, Arena's new CD - 'Just Me', produced by the likes of Peter Vettese and Nile Rogers is daringly eclectic. She fearlessly treads genres that Celine Dion would clearly shudder to get into, let alone feel comfortable with! 'Just Me' commences with the cheerful euro-flavoured disco ditty 'Dare You To Be Happy' and then moves on to a Retro R&B flavoured Disco track called 'Soulmate #9'. Both of these are chic but safer tracks designed not to alienate her fans, but at the same time designed to illustrate that this really is a 'different' Tina Arena CD. It is after this that the CD continuously scales a series of highs and leaves you wondering what's gonna happen next! The third track, 'But I Lied' is an ultra catchy slice of Lisa Loab flavoured acoustic folk/rock with Nile Rogers on guitar. Nile may not be an expert guitarist, but the riffs simply flow from his guitar. Things then take a complete different direction with a lovely slice of orchestral Ambience with a fabulous vocal to match called 'God Only Knows'. The direction again changes to Electronica - remember Madonna's 'Frozen' ? Arena's 'Symphony of Life' is arguably better than 'Frozen' as it has the advantage of sassy philosophical lyrics, much stronger vocals and a vocal line that gets tangibly louder with every passing verse, bringing itself to a stunning controlled climax - it is arguably Ms. Arena's finest moment on the CD (and there are quite a few of those here). Then comes the song that ballad lovers (familiar with Arena) will find themselves listening to, over and over again - 'You Made Me Find Myself'. Listen to Arena’s vocals – pure, emotive, ear candy; this is why Arena comes with the reputation of being one of the finest female vocalists in the world, today! Of course, you’ll want to listen to it again and that’s when you’ll realize that this is, lyrically, no ordinary ballad! Forget about the exploits of Ballad hack, Dianne Warren and current Diva, Celine Dion. Tina Arena and Desmond Child (yeah, I know what you're thinking, but... ) outdo everything that Dianne Warren and Desmond Child have done, individually, over the years! This Power Ballad is pure honesty at its core and will leave the listener feeling quite raw but curious as to what drove Arena to co-write a “thank-you” song as brutally direct as this one is! The track once again changes to a contemporary dreamy Disco ditty courtesy Nile Rogers called ‘If You Ever’ which while very nice, can’t hold a candle to the smashing Middle Eastern / Mediterranean inspired vocal lines of the next song – the brilliantly dramatic ‘Tangled’. A first class homage to The Carpenters called ‘I’m Gone’ follows and the entire set ends with the haunting yet brutally honest ‘Woman’ which has lyrics that go as follows - ‘I’ve walked the line/I’ve been undermined/Put on a skirt/Even when it hear/Just to survive/But I’ve learned to abide/Not allowed to cry/…’ - ends up being one of the most poignant moments on the CD. Only one thing’s required to listen to this CD – Listen to it with an open mind, ‘cause it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, from any obvious big voiced vocalist (you know the type, Mariah, Whitney, Celine, Streisand, Elaine Paige). Also, the ‘import’ tag may put people off. So see if you can download some of the tracks , if you like them, buy the album and support the artist. The theory behind this is to discover new music and ignore copy protected music CDs plus over-hyped artists!