ALBUM REVIEW: Jennifer Hudson – Jennifer Hudson

It’s rare when a natural born singer, who got the American Idol boot, wins an Oscar before ever getting nominated for a Grammy, but Jennifer Hudson was fortunate enough to see this unusual road. It was safe to assume a debut album of that unique caliber would have followed. Wrong.Jennifer Hudson’s self-titled debut album, which saw several release date push backs, does possess some shining moments, yet many forgettable ones. The relief that Hudson’s beautiful tone and range can translate into studio recordings is heard on her first single “Spotlight,” as well as her talent as a lyric interpreter on tracks like “Giving Myself,” and “If This Isn’t Love.”It’s been apparent since day one – Jennifer Hudson was not supposed to be a songwriter. She was supposed to be a great interpreter of song. Case in point, the Robin Thicke composed “Giving Myself” is a sweet, earnest, and tender wedding song moment demonstrating Jennifer’s strength as an artist. Jack Splash, who had shining moments on Solange’s (“Would’ve Been The One”) and Alicia Keys’ (“Teenage Love Affair”) albums, was no different in giving Jennifer “I’m His Only Woman” (featuring Fantasia), the track she sounds most comfortable on bathing in strings and “ohhh’s.”“Pocketbook” featuring Ludacris was only fitting because the lyrics “don’t make me hit you with my pocketbook” were sassy. Those clear moments of desperate need to contemporize Jennifer by throwing in Timbaland and beatbox actually made her less three-dimensional. The pairing of T-Pain and Jennifer for “What’s Wrong (Go Away)” proved further detrimental taking away what Jennifer was put on the map for, her voice, with a slab of unnecessary auto-tuning.Even “Spotlight” as catchy as it is was not debut single-worthy, and a brand new artist wouldn’t have been looked at twice; but because it was Jennifer (and penned by Ne-Yo) attention was paid. Other songs penned by current singer/songwriters, “My Heart” (written by Johnta Austin) and “We Gon’ Fight” (written by Tank), sound exactly how the songs would sound if they were on both those artists’ own albums. Jennifer Hudson was given little wiggle room to musically translate how distinctive she could be even with a slew of contemporary songwriters and producers. Hudson after all is someone who was phenomenal at singing covers on American Idol. That grandeur just didn’t make it to our ears on this debut.Spotlight – Jennifer Hudson

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