Note: The ideas expressed in this review may not rlefect those of j.says herself.
Likes: “Fairy Tales and Castles” (part 1), “I Don’t Know Why, But I Do”, “So In Love”, “If Nobody Sang Along”
Overall: Her previous work is better. This album is solid but lacks cohesion and memorable moments.
Over a year after her sophomore release “Epiphany,” Chrisette Michele is back with “Let Freedom Reign,” in which she focuses on love, music, and sociopolitical conflict. The conceptual aspect of the album is quite intriguing; however, the execution of these concepts ultimately ends up lackluster, especially in comparison to her previous albums. The enticing intro gives a promise of viewing society and the world like a dream, so that we can stand back and see our own greatness in the light of freedom. The lead single, “I’m A Star,” is quite forgettable in terms of melody and sounds like a watered down version of Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock.” Unfortunately, “I’m A Star” isn’t the only song that sounds recycled. “Number One” sounds like “Fragile” from her “Epiphany” album. “Goodbye Game” sounds like a remix of “Blame It on Me,” the melody on “So Cool” is extremely similar to “Playing Our Song” and “I’m Your Life” sounds like a mix between “Mr. Right” and “Lovesick” by Priscilla Renea. Many of the songs on “Reign” fail to be memorable, but there are a few highlights. “So In Love” featuring Rick Ross is catchy (although one may find themselves fast-forwarding through Ross’s two verses), and “If Nobody Sang Along “is emotional and introspective. The title track is also a winner.
“Reign’s” main issue is that it lacks the catchiness of “Epiphany” and the sultry, soulful attitude of “I Am” that solidified Michele’s artistic image. Vocally, her voice seems to be diminishing; it’s not as strong it was before, which would explain the record’s odd, over-produced sound that Michele fans may not be used to. The material is not sonically mainstream, but it’s not completely soul-underground either. The oddest adaptation a listener may have is the few songs that feature vocal auto-tune, as well as the experimental genre styles. “Reign” is a solid effort overall, but there is not much cohesion (after the second “Fairytales and Castles, “the interludes come off as random) or memorable moments that’ll get stuck in your head. This album, at best, is Michele’s crossover album, showing her fans that the sound of “I Am” may not be back for awhile. This could be either a good or bad thing, depending on the supporter. It’s hard to conclude whether Michelle is moving forward or backward artistically.