Overall: 70’s influenced, but the 2014 image doesn’t match; a little monotone
*Rubs temples* It’s weird how Jennifer Hudson’s new album JHUD (the chic nickname affectionately given to her by fans) is different from and similar to Chris Brown’s X all at the same time. Like Brown, Hudson had the goal reveling in a former period of R&B, but fell disappointingly short of the glory days for standing firm in 2014. She didn’t totally give up that new ghost. Hudson reached out for the 1970’s; the grooving rhythms are lifting and funky and some make you picture the disco “One Night Only” scene in Dreamgirls. Don’t be mad at me for adding to the continuing mentioning of Dreamgirls when discussing Jennifer; blame “It’s Your World” (featuring R.Kelly) and “I Still Love You.” The glitch is that the music tends not to go anywhere; there’s no momentum, no build-up, no big, anticipatory moments. Where it starts is where it stays and the grooves aren’t contagious enough to get away with looping, like Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” or Beyonce’s “Party.” Sometimes a looped track is enhanced with melodious harmonies and dazzling lead vocals, but since Hudson’s tone is naturally thick, restraint is occasionally needed. Restraint isn’t a good counterpart to repetition, though, so it makes things kind of boring. The Timbaland-produced “Walk it Out” is slinky, sexy and comely, but the coarse attitude of the lyrics repels you in the opposite direction. Already about taking on a one-night-stand, Hudson coos “F*** it, let’s do this today…I’ll be on that good s***, I’ll be on that hood s***.” What? “Gangsta sexpot” is kind of a theme on the album and despite Hudson’s claim that the project represents her vs. “Jennifer Hudson the persona,” it just blurs her in with everything else out there right now. This is going to sound terrible, but if “gangsta sexpot” is who she really is musically, then I’ll take the persona for $200, Alex. I don’t listen to her for that. I don’t tune into a Jennifer Hudson album to be reminded of Chris Brown or hear an unnecessary Iggy Azalea feature. Near the album’s conclusion, she has the nerve to have a song called “Bring Back the Music.” Please follow your own request. I’ll admit, she indeed seems more comfortable and attached to this material than that of her previous 2 albums. In my review for her sophomore I Remember Me, I predicted that her 3rd album would be a medium between its predecessors, but in a way that would retrieve the best parts of each, not the negatives. Her self-titled entrance had the aspiration of bringing her classic voice to current ears, but was an awfully forgettable conglomerate of reject tracks from 2008 and the 90’s diva era. Remember was inclusively written well, but had the same monotony issues as this album. JHUD’s 70’s recall was a great way to start the engine, but the too-contemporary lyrics and musical flat-lining couldn’t step on the gas and get the car going. I left Brown’s X with 3 favorite songs; I don’t have any on JHUD. I can’t say I saw that coming.