Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jazmine Sullivan - Fearless

I just got this album yesterday, and while I'm very impressed with her voice, this album is so unbalanced and imperfect. Unlike the Macy Gray CD I reviewed a few days ago, I agree with the order of the songs. It's ordered very well to present the songs for what they are. I think as a debut album Jazmine could have done a lot worse for herself, but some of these tracks are just bad.

We'll start with the good news. Highlights of the album (besides the singles Bust Your Windows, Need U Bad (which we'll get to later) and Lions, Tigers & Bears) include Call Me Guilty - the story of an abused woman deciding to shoot her man to save herself, Fear - in which Jazmine gives us a list of things to be afraid of in order to be relatable, and the ballad trio After The Hurricane, In Love With Another Man, and Dream Big - which are all about what the titles seems like they would be about.

Jazmine's voice definitely carries the CD through its weak points, and I think she has a lot of potential to release a more consistent sophomore effort.

The weak parts of this album are somewhat unfortunate, because I feel like a lot of them could easily have been salvaged. The first is the aforementioned single Need U Bad. While the vocal performance earned a Grammy nomination, Missy Elliot's production of the track seems unfinished. The faux-island sound and Pepa's contributions aren't really helping, and the drums have this weird triplet portion in the chorus that make the beat seem really inconsistent and flawed. One Night Stand takes everything bad about the Motown girl groups and flaunts it as something to be emulated. If she ever had the unfortunate task of making a music video for this song, picture the wardrobe to be identical to that of the song challenge on For the Love of Ray-J. If it weren't for the crappy backing vocals, I could even get behind this song, but every time I almost start to enjoy it the atonal echoing starts up again. Also, I don't care about your pancakes in the morning - which is the subject of the bridge. Finally, the bonus track, Switch! (exclamation not added), involves the screech sort of singing found in the PCD song Buttons.

My other problem with the album is the inconsistent message. The title is Fearless. Then she reveals that she's afraid of loving some man. By the end of the album, she's saying to fear is human and she has several of her own. I know the album title was probably chosen on purpose to directly challenge the songs, but it's so overtly inconsistent. Another consistency comes between the last two songs. During In Love With Another Man, Jazmine is sorry to say she doesn't have feelings for her man, but in Switch! she's more than happy to suggest that her date switch off with his best friend in exchange for hers.

Also, why does Missy always need to yell about what type of production this is? I guess since Ciara hadn't released anything for a while at the point this album came out Missy had to get her kicks somewhere, but it's a joke.

I would recommend downloading Bust Your Windows; Lions, Tigers & Bears; Call Me Guilty; Fear; and, In Love With Another Man. The rest are either run of the mill enough to leave behind or forgettable.

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