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Album Review: Fantasia – ‘Back to Me’

© J Records.

Even if Fantasia Barrino hadn’t tried to commit suicide two weeks before her latest album was released, Back to Me would have been an album worth hearing. But in the wake of her suicide attempt, many people will be listening to the album on a deeper level as they look for clues in her lyrics as to why she’d want to try ending it all. But with or without the subtext of what’s gone down in her personal life in recent weeks, Back to Me, which was released in the U.S. on Aug. 24, 2010, is a good, solid album that manages to properly harness Fantasia’s formerly wild and raw voice.

Highly Promising

Among all the previous “American Idol” winners and runners-up, an argument could be made for Fantasia Barrino having the most sheer raw talent of them all, or at least being in the top three. But part of the problem she’s had during her post-“Idol” recording career is that her handlers and others tried to shoehorn her into a style that obviously didn’t fit her. People wanted to remake her into a pop music princess, when it’s clear that she’s more comfortable singing R&B and Soul music. Well, on Back to Me, she finally stops being a round peg in a square hole and gets after it as a genuine rhythm & blues artist.And the results are highly promising, if not perfect. Two of the album’s better songs, the doo-wop jam “Collard Greens & Cornbread” and “The Thrill is Gone,” featuring Cee-Lo Green (no, it’s not a cover of the B.B. King song) are both very melodic, outside-the-box, non-pop tracks that ‘Tasia definitely would not have recorded during the making of either of her first two albums. They also perfectly compliment and enhance Fantasia by mirroring her voice and being something young and fresh, but feeling old and classic at the same time.

Inner Turmoil

© J Records.
The main highlight on Back to Me, though, is the first single, “Bittersweet,” during which ‘Tasia agonizes over a former lover whom she can’t get out of her mind or heart, even though he treated her bad: “Part of me wants you, part of me don’t/part of me is missin’ you, part of me is gone,” she sings. And it’s the inner turmoil on this song and others like “Who’s Been Lovin’ You” and “Even Angels” that make you wonder how much of the album – even if she didn’t write all the songs – is based at least in part on her real-life experiences.And her suicide attempt definitely puts a damper on the album’s opening track, a Brandy-esque song called “I’m Doin’ Me,” that’s supposed to be an upbeat anthem of female empowerment, but has an underlying layer of loneliness, especially while she’s singing lyrics like “Life is too damn short to live unhappily.”

As stated above, this is definitely the best, most consistent album that Fantasia has released so far. Now, if she could only get her personal life in order, it would be almost be a certainty that she’d have a long, productive and successful career ahead of her.


August 27, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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