Chrisette Michelle "I Am" Album Review

"I Am"

Part One

 

This girl can really sing.

And that’s really all one needs to know about Chrisette Michele.

Blessed with a gorgeous, soprano-style delivery somewhere near the orbit of Ella Fitzgerald, Jill Scott and Macy Gray, the world seems at the feet of the 26-year-old from long Island.

Based on the strength of her 2007 debut, I Am, Michele seems intent on making good on her God-given abilities.

And surely a voice like this – so timeless, so classic – could only have came from the heavens themselves.

A voice that you either have, or you don’t. Period.

I Am spawned four successful singles – “If I Have My Way,” “Best of Me,” “Love is You” and “Be OK,” a tune that netted Michele a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance this year.

And I guarantee that’s merely just the tip of the ice-burg for the irresistible Chrisette Michele.

She slyly worked her way onto the scene with a guesting role on Jay-Z’s “Lost One,” a tune nestled midway through the impresario’s comeback disc, Kingdom Come. Sounding more like a decades-old sample of some long-forgotten Billie Holiday song than something that was recorded in 2006, Michele made ears perk up with the way she served up “sorry, I’m a champion” on the track.

But even better yet is Michele’s obvious talents at helping forge a memorable song from a blank sheet of paper. She co-wrote every song on I Am, showing that she equipped to stay in this music game for the long haul.

Maybe the most under-appreciated aspect of I Am is the way that the production team gets it. They understand their roles and nothing they do on the album takes away from Michele’s jazzy, surreal-sounding pipes.

With producers like this on board, that should come as no surprise. Babyface, GI Joe, Will.I.Am and Mo Jaz are among the top-shelf producers that helped bring life to Michele’s creations on I Am.

"Love is You"

Part Two

 

The disc floats along with a light, breezy air to it, never threatening one’s patience or tempting one to hit the eject button midway through. And in today’s musical climate, full of hackneyed product with juvenile delivery, that’s a pleasant statement indeed.

Will.I.Am produced the breakthrough track, “Be OK,” giving the song a goodtime, positive vibe, one that can linger on for days.

That’s another beauty of I Am – the tracks are catchy and Michele’s voice is unforgettable, which is more than enough to inspire repeated listens to the disc.

“Your Joy” is another outstanding cut and was produced by Babyface. Famous for the way he incorporates acoustic guitar into the party, Babyface is the perfect touch for Michele on this tender ballad.

More than just ballads, I Am crackles with an electrical current that should generate some sing-alongs. Like on the hip-hop flavored “Good Girl,” where Michele cuts loose with a healthy dose of attitude and swagger as she explains just what she needs in a man. “I don’t need no sugar daddy, I can be a sugar mamma.” Sweet, indeed.

“Like a Dream” opens the disc on a flirtatious note, as Michele finds out on the mid-tempo jam that a guy she has her eye on is returning the favor and is also checking her out.

On “Mr. Radio,” the talented songstress admonishes those writers that take shortcuts and offer up weak, simple songs, all in an effort to make a splash on the airwaves.

Michele cuts no such corners on her first outing.

Another excellent serving of Michele’s lush voice is packaged and ready to go on “Let’s Rock.” The tune also gives a bit of insight as what makes Chrisette Michele tick.

She sings – “I’ve been studying Miss Billie, Miss Ella, Miss Sarah Vaughan and Miss Natalie Cole,” in between sweet strains of warm, rich strings.

And those studies were well worth Michele’s time.

For it seems like the young lady from New York is not only primed to help keep the memories and music of Miss Billie, Miss Ella, Miss Sarah Vaughan and Miss Natalie Cole alive, she seems intent on adding a few touches of her own.

And I Am is an excellent first chapter in the story of Miss Chrisette Michele.

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