Friday, August 20, 2010

Music Review: Fantasia "Back To Me"

     With the lead single slowly gracing the charts, and negative media attention Fantasia remains to stay strong and focus on her 3rd project; Back To Me. Coming from starring on Broadway as Celie in the Oprah Winfrey produced The Color Purple, and successful VH1 reality show, 'Fantasia For Real,' she releases the 12-track album on J Records.
     With the lead single, "Bittersweet," only being on the charts for seven weeks and only reaching a peak of #52 on Billboards' Radio Songs chart,
.(#90 Hot 100#10 R&B/Hip-Hop#88 Japan Hot 100 & #14 R&B Contemporaryprevious buzz has been lackluster.  I personally thought both of Fantasia's first albums were strong but lacked tracked for track a strong album, even though Fantasia charted well (#19 Billboard 200#3 R&B Billboard 200), garnered three Grammy nominations and sold over 400k albums... her label failed to promote the album after two singles, "Hood Boy" & "When I See U."  After four years, features a sole guest appearance by Cee-Lo Green and songs writting and/or produced by Ne-Yo, Claude Kelly, Chuck Harmony, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, KP & Malay, Fantasia is ready to step back on the music scene, for real!
      The intro track "I'm Doin' Me" can be taken so many ways with light of recent drama, but this song exclaims as the album title states, is about a woman getting back to her, after an epiphany during a typical relationship. I think it's the perfect intro for the album which leads into the lead single, "Bittersweet," which I've think we've all felt about an ex... as the lyrics proclaim: "...part of me wants you, part of me don't, part of me is missing you, part of me is gone..." they hit home. "Man of The House," a great mid-tempo where theres' no real sign of who's exactly wearing the pants in the relationship, Fantasia demands "Be a man, then be a man, then if you can't baby I can..." Okay, 'Tasia pull up those jeans! "Who's Been Lovin' You?" can honestly be a third single, a favorite of mine, really epitomizes everything a strong single needs, great production, strong lyrics... kinda brings the same vibe as Mary J.'s  "I Am."  My next favorite track, "Collard Greens & Cornbread" samples the  classic, in which Tasia talks about her loving being a good as her mother's soul food dish. Personally, not a fan of collard greens but I'm just going to assume they're good... this track really screams Fantasia to me, much of the album to me seems constrained... like she's not going hard on the vocals, but also give me this feeling she wants to focus on the depth of the album.  Now on her VH1 reality show, she pushed hard to J Records to get "Move On Me" as a lead single, and I'd have to say that would've been a horrible move! The flow of the verses are very likeable but as the lyrics of the hook being strong, the production is all over the place, makes it difficult for me to get into the song.
   The Novel-penned, rumored single third single "Trust Him," seems to be everyone's favorite that I've spoken to... and it's actually my lease favorite on the album, with the 50's doo-wop mixed with hip-hop beats really takes away from the song... I really admire the song on a lyric aspect... but the song will grow on me! Everything about "The Thrill Is Gone" (features Cee-Lo Green) says potential single, really gives me old school Aretha... followed by Cee-Lo revives his Goodie Mob roots on the rap verse.  The Rico Love (Usher, Kelly Rowland, BeyoncéDirty Money) and Jim Jonson (T.I., Lil' Wayne, Slim Thug, Michelle Williams) produced up-tempo "Falling In Love Tonight," is a feel good, club anthem, the vibe is great and it's not overdone.  Turn the lights on!  Next to 'Bittersweet' as overplayed in my iTunes is "Even Angels" the album's intended lead single, which was not promoted and failed to chart, dubbed by J Records as a promotional single, an inspirational track that is a really great start to a day! Also available for the first time as a bonus track, "I'm Here," Fantasia's the gut-wrenching signature song from acting role as "Celie.' "The Worst Part Is Over," the bonus track for the Japanese pressing, has an 80's Prince-inspired track, if wasn't featured as a bonus track, also have single potential.
    In an era where album sales are lackluster, record stores going into non-existence and constant push backs of release dates, it is clear that Fantasia pushed for a strong, classic R&B album... auto-tune and 'swagger' excluded! ;)

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