Monday, October 11, 2010

Faith Evans - Something About Faith

Do you ever wonder what funk mixed with jazz, sprinkled with techno, and smothered in hip-hop/soul sounds like?  Take a listen to Something About Faith, Faith Evans’ sixth studio album, and you will know.  Fifteen years after her debut album, Faith, Evans’ voice has maintained its cashmere softness and warmth.  And like her hits from the ‘90s, “Never Let You Go,” “I Love You,” and “I’ll Be Missing You,” the love songs on her new album continue to infuse my soul and melt my heart.  Whether she sings about having faith in love or having faith in God, self, or humanity, Evans proves that there really is something about faith.

The intro opens with shimmering synths, twinkling hi-hats, and sparkling chimes—sounds that are very similar to Evans’ voice.  While these instruments work on some tracks, on other songs, like “Baby Lay,” and “Can’t Stay Away,” the timbres clash with her sheer soprano vocals.    

Another downfall of this album is its lack of cohesiveness.  While most songs are in the same sound world, others are clearly dislocated.  “Your Lover” sounds like the hybrid of a game-show theme song and a commercial jingle for an island vacation.  And the lyrics in “The Love in Me” present two non sequitur themes.  Evans first explains how “hood” and “real” she is and then invites the listener to “embrace the love in me.”  Even if the two themes do somehow fit together, the song title baffles me because it falsely signifies that this is a love song.  

I commend Evans for making music that is socially conscious, including “Real Things,” “Changes,” featuring gospel duo Mary Mary, and “Troubled World,” featuring gospel’s own Jessica Reedy and soulful songstress Kelly Price.  Even though the lyrics contain substance and truth, the music lacks depth and variation, making these songs unmemorable.    

And maybe it's my speakers, but many of the songs sound a bit incomplete, like biscuits without jam or Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce; they needed another flavor to enhance the sound.  Yes, room for improvement exists, but there is also a lot to love!  

In the case of many of these songs, this is feel-good music that makes you want to “get your back up off the wall!” exclaimed in “Party.”  And even though they have elements that are more contemporary, many of these songs resemble the rich and soulful 90’s R&B from my childhood.  Back in the day, beautiful, lush harmonies became Evans’ signature, and they are incorporated in pre-released singles, “Way You Move,” featuring Snoop Dogg, “Sunshine,” and “Gone Already.” 

But “Worth It” is my absolute favorite song.  It is the perfect combination of the smart instrumentation, cool groove, and “grown-and-sexy” vibe that enlivens each of these songs.  Music like this confirms that I’d much rather prefer to hear Evans sing about love and heartbreak than anything else. 

Another strong point of Something About Faith is the integration of music by Evans’ late husband, The Notorious B.I.G.  In “Can’t Stay Away,” featuring Keyshia Cole, she quotes lyrics from the hook of Biggie’s classic, “Hypnotize.”  And she does her own interpretation of his song, “Everyday Struggle.”  Biggie’s version hopelessly laments, “I don't wanna live no mo’. Sometimes I hear death knockin at my front do’. I'm livin everyday like a hustle—another drug to juggle. Another day another struggle.”  But Evans challenges listeners to keep the faith in her rendition, which features two rapped verses by Raekwon.  

All in all, Something About Faith impresses me.   This album is not perfect; nonetheless, many of its songs will enjoy ample playtime on my speakers.  Actually, I have already listened to most of the songs multiple times.  Something about Faith, the album and the singer, truly resonates with me.

1 comment:

TheWolvesDen said...

This is a great review. Sounds like I should make this a priority listen this year.