It would be hard to blame those
who havent paid Jazmine Sullivan much attention so far. Most R&B
chicks end up on a milk carton before the second single drops, and it
isnt 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 everyones
mind, yes, Jazmine Sullivan sounds like Lauryn Hill. A lot. Theres
an unavoidable similarity in her tone and phrasing, not to mention a
stray Rza jack on My Foolish Heart (see also: Ex-Factor).
Its entirely possible that this isnt intentional, but it would
be easier to overlook the comparison if it didnt 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 wont 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 its
a little more disappointing in Fearless because Sullivan really
doesnt need to. Lions, Tigers & Bears is a star-maker and
even at her least interesting moments (After the Hurricane), shes
at least competent. Even if her voice is reminiscent of someone elses,
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 Sullivans
songwriting abilities, covering everything from infidelity (In Love With Another Man) to murdering an abusive boyfriend (Call Me Guilty). Shes frequently clever and occasionally funny
without being too over the top. The varied production doesnt 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, shell 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 isnt the classic
album that she may eventually deliver, but it at least proves that she
deserves the chance to make it.Fear – Jazmine Sullivan