With the recent death of my Laptop, I haven't been able to continue my 100 Greatest albums of the decade list (which should resume sometime next week) and with the nervousness due to a head-boy candidate speech I have to deliver Monday morning, I've had a lot of free time on my hands. In that free time, I discovered soul singer's Chrisette Michele's sophomore effort, Epiphany which is currently on sale in the U.S. for a low $2.99 and is currently a main contender for #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart next week, going head-to-head with Ciara's Fantasy Ride.
Michele made her debut in 2007 with I Am, I didn't pay the album any attention, but I did hear some stuff from it as a result from her appearance on the former U.S. sitcom, Girlfriends. I listened to both I Am and her latest Epiphany this morning and the latter doesn't differ that much from the preceding, except it's more mainstream, but both indulging in a lustrous state of R&B, like a diminutive Jill Scott from her more earlier work.
Epiphany brings in the help of R&B megastar Ne-Yo, who puts his magic touch on nearly every track on here. The first of his magic arises on the opening number and title track "Epiphany," which thumps a slick rhythm, backing a sweet melody and lenient piano keys. Next up is "Notebook" which really hits its hardest when the chorus commences, displaying a Beyonce ("Single Ladies") like chant of: "Oh-oh-oh," also featuring a surprisingly appealing distorted piano.
"What You Do" which actually features Ne-Yo, supports a heart-churning melody - bolstered by a kinetic handclap and click venture and it's pretty big on the synthesizer. "Blame It On Me," is the albums first ballad - which is essentially built up of an enchanting orchestral construction (mainly violins) during the chorus, backed by a tight combo of tambourines and handclaps. Following it up is another ballad "All I Ever Think About" which throws a acrid Jennifer Hudson ballad moment reminiscent.
"Playin' Our Song" is the biggest surprise on the album as it's surprisingly more contemporary pop than R&B, bringing the help of Rodney Jerkins - who's mostly known for his work on the urban scene. It sounds like something that belongs on the first half of Beyonce's Sasha Fierce disc.
Among my favorites on here is "Another One" which flaunts a nice acoustic intonation during its verses before bursting into string and drum affair on the chorus. "On My Own" is fundamentally my least favorite cut on the album, it could do with a bit more grip than the rhythmic crashes of drums and hi-hats. "Fragile" and "Mr. Right" are upbeat, faintly bluesy cuts, very big on the piano keys.
"Porcelain Doll" is an interesting number, pounding a forceful tambourine and thrust bassline, backed a lovely piano, also furthered by a wonderful melody. Closing the album is the traditional piano-ballad "I'm Okay." I'm amply impressed with Epiphany, the album had the benefit of not receiving any expectations from me as I wasn't planning on giving it a chance, but I'm awfully glad I did. The album definitely rivals The-Dream's Love vs. Money for best R&B album of the year, so far.
Best: Another One, Epiphany, Playin' Our Song, Notebook, Blame It On Me, All I Ever Think About, Porcelain Doll