Blu Cantrell's follow-up to her excellent debut, So Blu, is another fine slice of contemporary R&B propelled above the ordinary by her arresting voice and the sympathetic and interesting production. Bittersweet didn't reach the same commercial level as So Blu, but that isn't due to any drop off in quality. The best songs here, like the slinky "Breathe" (which features an appearance by the ubiquitous Sean Paul), the sweet ballad "Risk It All," and the heartbroken kiss-off "Unhappy," place Cantrell at the top of the heap of modern soul singers. The record has a melancholy tinge and Cantrell sings with a depth of emotion that many of her contemporaries can't reach. At times, like on the powerful "Sleep on the Middle," she sounds like Minnie Riperton or Teena Marie, like someone who has something deeper backing up her stunning technique. The preponderance of electric piano and mellow musical backing also give the record the organic feel of a classic '70s record. A couple of tracks break free from the low-key mid-tempo mood: "Impatient," which is a funky reggae-inspired track with guest raps from Lil' Kim and Fat Joe and a playful vocal from Cantrell; the partly sunny "Happy Ever After"; and the skittering and angry "Make Me Wanna Scream," which lets Cantrell show off the power of her voice. Cantrell is a real talent and Bittersweet is the kind of record fans of modern soul music should champion. Tough, smart, sexy, and impassioned with a sound that shows imagination, it would be a shame if it slipped through the cracks.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra
feat: Sean Paul