It’s time this legendary singer’s voice regained its personality.
Natalie Shaw 2010-12-02
Faith Evans is from the old school of soulful RnB; she could add a lilt and some beats to a takeaway menu and make it sound tender. It’s a truly marvellous voice, so honeyed and magnetic – but that’s the sort of damaging tenacity that leads a career down an alleyway.
Her albums are often hit and miss affairs, marked by her penchant for taking chances. It’s more than a penchant; she’s never been afraid of honesty, using a different tack each time to explore a new range of emotions. It worked best on 2001’s Faithfully, which gave her a voice away from the ghetto, replaced firmly into the territory of gritty, raw emotion – through lively production and a mix between punch-packed neo-disco and sultrier, low-slunk ballads.
Mixing styles as default doesn’t pay off on Something About Faith for two main reasons, the first being the amount of guest stars shoehorned in for credence. Raekwon, Kelly Price, Snoop Dogg, Redman and Keyshia Cole are just some of the names present, but too briefly and anonymously to merit their fees. And the second reason is the lyrical content – the album journeys through genres for fun, all the while forgetting to veer from its pedestrian substance.
Something About Faith is hugely varied in sound, perhaps a symbol of it being the first album Evans has released on an independent record label. But for each take, and each combination of producers, there’s always another artist making more enticing sounds. Salaam Remi’s "broken-bottle", reggae-tinged production on The Love In Me sounds weak compared with his work with Jazmine Sullivan, while the jazz and gospel tinges on Change and slow jam Right Here slip by unnoticed, loitering in the middle of the road.
Sure, Evans’ vocals can leave ears trembling, but that’s not shock enough. Something About Faith is an incredibly tame take on too many sounds, devoid of the personality that made her stand out. "Security, serenity, stability / The therapy, the memories, the unity / The loyalty, the honesty, the sanity / Familiar predictability," she lists on Real Things, which aims at personal and comes off faceless. It’s lazy.
If the gloss is intended as escapism, it doesn’t sound like she is having much fun. And at 16 tracks, Something About Faith is exceedingly filler-heavy. It’s time this legendary singer’s voice regained its personality.