Chrisette Michele

Let Freedom Reign

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AllMusic Review by

Let Freedom Reign is not quite as grandiose or as radical a shift for Chrisette Michele as its wrapping indicates. Chrisette packs the outside and inside of her third album with colorful, glamorous carnival scenes and inserts the title of each song into a lengthy essay. Apart from its charged mini-epic title song, featuring a marching band-like drive and verses from Talib Kweli and Black Thought, the album largely concerns affairs of the heart with a side of introspection and self-empowerment. Chrisette is back to co-writing almost all of her songs, while the whole set is produced by Chuck Harmony, who had a hand in almost every track on 2009’s Epiphany. It’s the most energetic of Chrisette’s three albums, propelled by the uplifting “I’m a Star” and “Number One,” as well as the Ne-Yo-penned “So Cool” -- something like a hybrid of two of his other glitzy, thumping songs, “Because of You” and “Spotlight.” The album’s upbeat disposition lends itself to a decrease in the prominence of plain ballads that functioned mostly as vocal showcases on the first two albums. The exquisitely fiery “Goodbye Game” -- a ballad and a standout -- is sonically loaded but doesn’t detract from Chrisette’s distressed and forceful voice, which resembles that of a young, gritty, and less shrill Patti LaBelle.

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