Chrisette Michele

Epiphany

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AllMusic Review by

Chrisette Michele's very good debut, I Am, won a couple Grammys but did not did not have corresponding commercial success. None of its three singles reached the Top 20 of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The album itself barely dented the Top 30 of the Billboard 200. She co-wrote each one of its songs and passed on the opportunity to record "Irreplaceable," later taken on by Beyoncé and made into one of 2006's biggest singles. Consider all of this, Grammy part excepted, and it's understandable why Chrisette would be steered in a different direction. Chrisette evidently did some of the driving, since one of the inspirations behind the album's title refers to the realization that she can benefit by allowing more input from songwriters. She co-writes only three of these songs, with executive production from "Irreplaceable" writer Ne-Yo, who also gets writing credit on six songs; Chuck Harmony touches several cuts, while smaller contributions come from the likes of Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Allstar, Bei Maejor, and Tim Bosky. Given the different strategy, and the fact that none of the producers or songwriters here had anything to do with I Am, it's a little surprising that the results are not all that different. It's also somewhat ironic that it's less rounded; the material, while mostly well-crafted, runs together as a block of slow, serious songs broken up by only a couple brief upswings in energy. Chrisette, naturally, sounds outstanding throughout, as a supernaturally talented vocalist whose songs are nonetheless easily relatable to anyone going through a breakup -- or, to a significantly lesser extent here, newfound love -- but the album could have really used more rhythmic punch than a token throwback strutter.

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