The tremendous amount of maturity and artistic growth displayed (especially over a 3 year period) was staggering. Knocking down the proverbial “fourth wall,” they wrote their most guttural and connected album yet, telling a progressing story of the deterioration and reconstruction of a woman’s spirit while loving another person more than herself. It was therapy on wax, as most of the songs described the psychology of a woman whose acquisition of love is unhealthy. It boldly confronted the backwards practice of using the heart, mind and body as a bargaining chip; offering it all instantly in a hopeful exchange for affection, instead of a gift given after it is earned. The various layers of this are explored—1) rejection and competition, 2) bitterness, 3) susceptibility to emotional manipulations, 4) forfeiting trueness to and development of the self to become someone else’s ideal, 5) rationalizing mistreatment and abuse and 6) forcing yourself to accept things you honestly dislike to get whatever attachment you can from a potential mate. A few of the tracks tackle multiple layers; “Through with Love” nearly took on the whole enchilada: “I gave up my friends…threw out my dreams if you said you didn't approve…compromised my life just to see I'd find you were trying hold me back, slowly throwing me off my track…there you go comparing me to every little model on the TV screen…my esteem has gone down…you make me feel dumb and alone…paralyzed my growth for you, I gave you control, felt so helpless without you…I have given so much in the past for a love I never had…through with love, I'm finally giving it up.”
“Is She the Reason” bluntly hits layer 6 on the nail while addressing the epidemic of ‘giving the milk for free:’ “…remember we were different…I was cool with no commitment, let me take that back, it was you, so I was with it.” “Reason,” along with the Japanese bonus track “Why You Actin’,” tells what usually happens after the milk’s been taken. With no titles, you’re not entitled. The person has the freedom to leave, so they do and you’re left feeling inadequate, foolish and emotionally bankrupt after a bad investment into someone with no credit.
Concession is discussed even to the point of spiritual confliction and revelation. Rumored eliminated song “Have Your Way” was likely on the chopping block for its melodic dryness, but its saddening tale was a familiar one and a powerful statement: “I changed my life for you and all that you could do is betray me…Lord I'm trying to do what pleasing in your sight, but I'm in love; right now I'm caught up. Instead of leaving, I know you’ll be right by my side and you'll make a way… I've spent too much time playing wife...O Lord forgive me, I thought by now we'd be married… you've shown no commitment to me… I cannot blame you for using me if I continue to let this be, ‘cause shacking with a man just ain't me.” Faith-based values are rarely approached in secular music; it shows how much DC looked within to make this album (the members have a religious background). Lines in “Bad Habit” and “Through” compensate in “Way’s” absence. In fact, “Through’s” conclusion is finding resolve in spiritual love. It completes Fulfilled’s closing “reconstruction” trifecta that includes my favorites, “If” and the inner peace anthem “Free.” I love “If” partly for the same reason I love Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable:” they musically seem sweet and gentle, but have a feisty message.