ALBUM REVIEW: Jazmine Sullivan – Fearless

It would be hard to blame those

who haven’t paid Jazmine Sullivan much attention so far. Most R&B

chicks end up on a milk carton before the second single drops, and it

isn’t always easy to tell which ones we should get too attached to.

Sullivan, however, actually deserves the second glance that most of

her peers do not, as Fearless

offers more than just “Need U Bad.” 

To address the topic on everyone’s

mind, yes, Jazmine Sullivan sounds like Lauryn Hill. A lot. There’s

an unavoidable similarity in her tone and phrasing, not to mention a

stray Rza jack on “My Foolish Heart” (see also: “Ex-Factor”).

It’s entirely possible that this isn’t intentional, but it would

be easier to overlook the comparison if it didn’t open the door to

so many others.

Elsewhere, Sullivan deliberately

invokes Stevie Wonder (on “Fear,” which is nevertheless excellent),

accidentally invokes Amy Winehouse (on “Switch,” which definitely

is not) and samples Daft Punk (on “Dream Big,” which is kind of

in the middle). In these moments – and a few others we won’t continue

to list – Jazmine does herself a disservice by couching so much of

her persona in the work of other legendary artists. 

Everyone steals, but it’s

a little more disappointing in Fearless because Sullivan really

doesn’t need to. “Lions, Tigers & Bears” is a star-maker and

even at her least interesting moments (“After the Hurricane”), she’s

at least competent. Even if her voice is reminiscent of someone else’s,

she is one of the strongest singers to come along as of late.  

Jazmine folds quite a bit of

emotion into her vocals, and when she sings, she sounds like she means

it. The believability of her sentiment is further assisted by Sullivan’s

songwriting abilities, covering everything from infidelity (“In Love With Another Man”) to murdering an abusive boyfriend (“Call Me Guilty”). She’s frequently clever and occasionally funny

without being too over the top. The varied production doesn’t always live

up to the task of supporting her lyrics and vocals, but when things

come together well, the results are favorable.  

Once Sullivan finds the confidence

to be her own woman, she very well may become a mainstay. To make that

happen though, she’ll need to find the right producer to help focus

her talent and stop wandering the streets with a potato sack accepting

beats from whoever will donate them. Fearless isn’t the classic

album that she may eventually deliver, but it at least proves that she

deserves the chance to make it.Fear – Jazmine Sullivan

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