Right Here Right Now

Jordin Sparks

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Right Here Right Now Review

by Andy Kellman

Back in 2009, "Battlefield" put Jordin Sparks in the Top Ten of the Hot 100 for the third time, but its like-titled parent album didn't sell nearly as well as the singer's 2007 debut. The drop, however, couldn't have been the biggest factor in the six-year gap between the release of her second album and that of Right Here Right Now. Among other involvements, there were soundtrack appearances, touring, and a number of acting roles, preeminently the lead in the remake of Sparkle. While working on the soundtrack for that film, Sparks connected with Salaam Remi, a veteran producer who has played a part in the rise of the Fugees, Amy Winehouse, and Jazmine Sullivan. Executive produced by Remi and released on his Sony-affiliated Louder Than Life label, Right Here Right Now is rather different from the albums Sparks recorded while she was a teenager. She entered the studio without a plan and had more input than ever. The result is aimed more at urban contemporary radio than at the pop format, as stressed by the quantity of sleek rhythmic productions, the comparatively forward nature of some of the lyrics, and guest appearances from B.o.B and 2 Chainz. Sparks still sounds like she's finding a voice of her own. At points, she sounds like she's singing material intended for Janet Jackson ("100 Years"), Mariah Carey ("Boyz in the Hood"), and Ciara (the DJ Mustard-produced "It Ain't You"). Even so, there's some significant growth on display, especially so on deeply contrasting ballads -- "Tell Him That I Love Him," a cutting belter addressed to her man's lover, and "11:11," a yearning and poised slow jam -- that appear consecutively during the album's latter half.

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