By Leletu Gxuluwe
After winning a controversial and record breaking third season of American Idol in 2004, Fantasia Barrino plummeted onto the music scene with her debut album, Free Yourself. The album was a huge success as it garnered her many Grammy Award nominations and produced her only Billboard Hot 100 number 1 single, “I Believe”. Her sophomore album, Fantasia was not as successful as her debut album receiving mixed to bad reviews. The album even failed to achieve Gold status in the US which was a huge disappointment because her debut album had received platinum certification by RIAA.
On 24 August 2010, this soulful/R&B singer released her third album titled Back To Me, which features a true return to form by the distinctively talented singer. On this album Fantasia manages to combine the raw passion of her Soul and church influences with her hair-raising vocals and contemporary productions, creating an outstanding and awe-inspiring album which caters to a wide variety of individuals.
Motivational songs such as “I’m doing me” and “even angels” are optimistic numbers about learning how to slowly piece a life back together and live under one’s own power. These songs came at a great moment in time as Fantasia was going through a rough personal time. Filled with anthems that embody femininity and strength, this album covers a range of topics from devoted affection to incurable anguish to the unavoidable period of moving on.
“Bittersweet”, the Grammy Award winning single sounds like a ’70s slow-jam throwback, from the Stylistics-style guitar to the “Somebody’s going to get hurt out of this situation” recitation in the middle. Sheapplies her raspy vocals to ingenious melodies without becoming lost in the shuffle. She belts out powerfully while gliding faultlessly through her range without missing a beat. Her crossover songs are least impressive as they lack soul, grit, emotion and energy. She fumbles on songs like “Man of The House”, “Falling in Love Tonight” and “Who’s Been Loving you”. She however redeems herself with her Marvin Gaye/Aretha Franklin inspired song “Collard Greens and Cornbread”. “I’m Here” also makes up for her missteps.
‘Back to Me’ proves to be an exceptional album. Passionate, honest and powerful, the album captures the elements of everything that R&B music has been missing in recent years. Hopefully the public will be able to look past her personal problems and embrace this album as it is sheer genius.