Likes: No One’s Gonna’ Love You, “Don’t Look Down,” “Feeling Good”
Overall: Much better than her last record. I didn’t despise any of the songs. The production is a little dry, but the lyrics are strong. Acceptable album.
Jennifer Hudson turns the “sophomore jinx” on its head and rebounds from her disappointing self-titled debut album with “I Remember Me.” Hudson’s debut was infused with middling, commercial tunes that were ill-fitting and didn’t do her voice justice. “Remember” is a better fit; it’s more mature, consistent and comprehensive. Like most R&B albums, it covers the ups and downs of romantic relationships with a few inspirational-motivational songs. The opener, “No One’s Gonna’ Love You” has an interesting concept, as she admits to having baggage and personal issues that impact her relationship, but still asserts that she’s a suitable partner; an admission that isn’t frequently found on R&B albums by women. “Why is it So Hard” well captures the confusion and indecision someone might feel in a complex or difficult relationship they desperately want to invest in. The lyrics of “Where You At” are great, but musically, it kind of drags on, with few chord changes and no layered production. Plus, the climax takes too long to get to, and when it’s finally reached, the song quickly tapers off and ends. “Where” is also kind of misplaced within the track order of the album, being a breakup song among happier, relationship joints and two inspirational-motivationals. Here is where we find the weakness of “I Remember Me.”
Too many of the songs follow “Where You At’s” pattern of strong lyrics, but not enough musical pizzaz. Musically, “Remember” is too monotone. The entire album could use a pump-up in energy and dynamic. Even the heartfelt “Still Here” and “Believe” (a decent rendition of the Brooks & Dunn country hit) could’ve packed some more punch. Vocally, “J-Hud” is still solid, but was so restrained and controlled, that a little powerhouse singing was in order. Who would’ve thought you would have to ASK Jennifer Hudson to over-sing a little? She went from too much over-singing to almost none at all. Balance is the key. The lack of a sonic boom makes the catchy, mid-tempo “Don’t Look Down” and “Everybody Needs Love” refreshing and appealing. “Love” and another track, “Gone,” I assume exist to feed the needs of those who enjoy the currently popular dance and electro sound. “Love” is a little easier to digest than “Gone,” as its R&B-dance versus pop-dance, and doesn’t sound as forced or intentionally mainstream. Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz wrote and produced “Love,” which explains its resemblance to Whitney Houston’s “Million-Dollar Bill,” but the two songs aren’t so incredibly similar that I would accuse Keys and Beatz of lazy production (http://jsays.weebly.com/2/post/2011/03/divas-copying-divas.html). Keys also contributed to “Angel” and “Don’t Look Down.” Hudson’s cover of the jazz-standard “Feelin’ Good” was full of attitude and shook things up a little, but still felt restrained.
This album was a WHOLE lot better than the last one, but it could use a little fine tuning. I suspect that her 3rd album will be the complete package and a happy medium between her first two efforts. Despite the lack of musical “sis-boom-pow,” the writing on this album was great and the substantial amount of artistic growth is visible and respectable. Good job.