Favorites: Man of the House, Bittersweet, I’m Doin’ Me
Least Favorites: Who’s Been Loving You, The Thrill is Gone, Falling in Love Tonight, Even Angels
Overall: NICE upgrade from her last album; very classy, Great R&B/Soul record
This is the first album I’ve heard in AWHILE that wasn’t plagued by bland indifference; having multiple strong tracks, comprehensive flow and an immediate personal favorite song from me. “Back to Me” is the 3rd album from “American Idol” Season 3 winner Fantasia and it’s a very much needed upgrade from her previous self-titled album. The “Fantasia” project sought to catch commercial attention with contemporary hip-hop/R&B tracks, but that ironically didn’t work as the album ultimately had low sales. I personally didn’t enjoy the record much; I felt that the album had a “street edge” that wasn’t befitting or conducive to an “American Idol’s” path to stardom. Some of the lyrics featured on the album were tacky and classless. Not the case with “Back to Me.” From the look of the booklet to sound of the album, “Back To Me” is smoother, classier, more mature and expounds on vintage R&B/Soul, staying away from the mediocre, generic R&B designed for some of the one-hit wonders and “flashes in the pans” of today (It also stayed away from using the more popular producers of today, like Tricky Stewart and Ne-Yo, using less familiar names like Malay & KP). To some, Fantasia’s voice might be considered high-pitched, squeaky, screechy or rough, but at minimum, you can appreciate the passion and uninhibited fervor in which she sings. There’s just the right amount of emotion in every note and adlib that Fantasia never has a problem being authentic or believable. Also, Fantasia seems to have more vocal control on this album, exhibiting more vocal professionalism.
The album starts with the piano-heavy, well produced and bouncy “I’m Doin’ Me”, a song about moving on from a whack guy. From there, the great tracks keep coming with “Bittersweet” and the bumpin’ “Man of the House.” I anticipate many women will relate to “House,” as the lyrics tackle the guy that falls short on his responsibilities, but walks around with his chest puffed out. I foresee this song starting a lot of debates and discussions among men and women. “Collard Greens & Cornbread” is cutely written and Motown tinged, “Trust Him” is catchy and “Teach Me” is relaxing and makes you want to hit the beach with Bob Marley. “Move on Me” is refreshingly dynamic as far as sound, but the production overshadows the lyrics and vocals. It seems the latter part of the album was designated for the weaker songs; the thrill was definitely gone with “The Thrill is Gone,” “Falling in Love Tonight” was a sad attempt of a mild R&B/Pop crossover, and “Even Angels” featured stupid lyrics and blasé music. “Angels” was the most blatant pop-crossover attempt; you can tell that was the intention by it being released as a single, but it’s an epic failure all around. The record finishes with the stirring and triumphant “I Am Here,” from the Color Purple Broadway musical, in which Fantasia had the lead role. When it comes to singles, if the record label execs are smart, they’ll release “I’m Doin’ Me,” and “Man of the House” in addition to “Bittersweet” and “Even Angels.”
In terms of the album’s title, Fantasia said in an interview she wanted to get “back to her” with this album and present material the “Idol” fan-base more so enjoyed around the time of her winning and focus less on “making a hit” and being commercial. Sounds like a plan well executed to me. This album is freakin’ fantastic and I love it. I had to stop listening to it so I wouldn’t get tired of it. Good job, Fanny.