Single Review: Strong Beautiful Woman by Paula Cole

For the second single from her newest record, Raven, Paula Cole has made the brilliant decision to release, "Strong Beautiful Woman." The track is quintessential Cole--gorgeous, melodic, and comfortingly confessional. It is also the catchiest song on her newest record (and certainly the one I was singing to myself right after my first listen to Raven). The song also marks an interesting emotional evolution for the artist. While the singer has long been the champion for shy and self-doubting women ("I Am So Ordinary," "Me," "14," "Something I've Gotta Say" ), "Strong Beautiful Woman" shows her speaking from a place of wisdom and comfort. By using narrative details from what one assumes are her own experiences, including her relationship with her grandmother and the difficulties of young adulthood, she reassures listeners that though challenges will appear, they will be strong and beautiful. This is all delivered with a tasteful, organic production imbued with an ease and self-confidence that recalls Carole King's "Beautiful" and "You've Got a Friend." Paula Cole is at the peak of her abilities with this track, and through it we hear (once again) her gift for attractive melodies, the warmth and depth of her voice, and the consistent thread throughout her career for empowering her audience. In a year that has produced wonderful tracks about self-worth like Cher's "Woman's World" and Katy Perry's "Roar," Paula Cole's "Strong Beautiful Woman" is the loveliest offering.

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