Wednesday, August 25, 2010

REVIEW: Fantasia's Back to Me

Don’t worry lovebirds, testifiers, and loyal gals with no-good men, Fantasia’s got plenty of soul to go around. Back to Me, the 26 year old singer’s third studio album, says “you are not alone” like no other and reminds us that for the great ones, the i in sing becomes an a.

A teary batch of songs that could easily play in the background of a roller coaster relationship, the album drips with feeling. On the album’s lead single “Bittersweet”, Fantasia sings about ending a romance like a carafe that cannot be drained, like someone who wells up every performance and secretly says to herself there’s more where that came from.

And Midi Mafia, the R&B production duo responsible for most of Back to Me’s sway, know not to steal the show. Apart from a tinge of reggae acoustic on “Teach Me” and some synthetic blasts here and there, they let Ms. Barrino do her thing knowing full well home-girl could hum her way past the pearly gates acapella if she wanted to. On “Collard Greens & Cornbread”, which borrows the same bass riff from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Your Precious Love”, Fantasia almost has the nerve to say that her new love  is better than her mother’s cooking. The funnier thing is that those angelic notes of hers make us believe her.

Minus the quasi-gospel moment or two, Back to Me showcases a stand-up vocalist who isn’t too Hollywood–or Broadway–to give out goose bumps. For the greater part of her career, she has remained true to this bread and butter, so in a sense, she’s really going forward to herself.

—Sidik Fofana

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