In a matter of four years, Candice Glover went from being told that her career wouldn't go farther than a hotel lobby, to recording a song co-written by her favorite artist. Descriptively dispatched by Simon Cowell during the Hollywood round of American Idol's ninth season, she returned for the 11th season and fared only a little better. On her third attempt, during season 12, she won the competition -- the first woman champion since season six's Jordin Sparks. Her progression through season 12 was built on traditionally minded, guts-spilling ballads originally recorded by the likes of Christina Aguilera, John Legend, Emeli Sandé, and Adele. Heartrending ballads are indeed what make up the majority of Music Speaks. Album opener "Cried," co-written by inspiration Jazmine Sullivan, lays it all out. Glover belts "I tried to be the girl that never complains, but holding it in is driving me insane" with such force that the sentiment is 100-percent believable. It's no outlier. In each song, Glover sings with complete conviction, best heard in the winding "Die Without You" (somewhat redolent of Usher's "There Goes My Baby"), the floating kiss-off "Thank You," and the self-smacking "Same Kinda Man" -- the last of which was written by producers Rock City and the Co-Captains, though it's easily mistakable for the work of Sullivan. Given the dominance of slow material, the album is a bit stifling; Glover loosens up a little for only "In the Middle," co-written by Fantasia Barrino with a touch of "Ting-a-Ling," yet even that has some heartache. At the end is "Love Song," a cover of the Cure's "Lovesong" that lacks the emotionally raw drama of the version she performed on American Idol. It closes Glover's debut on an anticlimactic note, but the singer should be around for a while -- hopefully long enough to make some albums that have as much character and boldness as Sullivan's Fearless and Love Me Back.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman