Assimilation has bedeviled ethnic cultures for centuries, but it’s taken the Corrs only a few albums to succumb to it. The Irish siblings’ 1995 Forgiven, Not Forgotten straddled the delicate balance between Celtic folk (fiddles and tin whistles) and mainstream pop (the sulky-glam looks and comely voice of singer Andrea Corr). They managed to pull it off, but with each subsequent release their national identity has receded further, as the band and its record company have sought first and foremost to make them as hugely popular in the U.S. as they are in Europe.
The Corrs aren’t the first overseas act with such a goal, but few have pursued it with their depressing zeal. First came a collaboration with producer Glen Ballard, then a remix disc, and now In Blue, which finds them paired with, among others, producer and Shania Twain husband/Svengali ”Mutt” Lange. The Lange-helmed opening track and single, ”Breathless,” could be credited to Wilson O’Phillips, and it sets the tone for what follows. The nothing-but-a-heartache songs are banal, each one reduced to adult-contemporary radio fodder that feels very 1991 (”All the Love in the World” is awaiting Celine Dion’s return). The album also reflects a music-biz mind-set that emphasizes not merely Stateside sales but global success; In Blue is unlikely to offend anyone, anywhere. Tellingly, sister Sharon Corr’s fiddle is featured prominently only on two tracks. It’s a shame, since the Corrs can work up a jig-rock lather on stage. But on record, they’re a disheartening example of musical ethnic cleansing. C-