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Album Review: Faith Evans - 'R&B Divas'

A Fire Rekindled

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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As the title suggests, Faith Evans' latest album, R&B Divas is a tie-in to her reality show of the same name. But even if you've never seen the show or hate reality TV, you should have no problem getting into and enjoying the dozen songs here. The songs -- most of which feature the other four stars of the show, plus other guest vocalists, like Fantasia and Kelly Price -- are easily some the better, more accessible tracks of Faith's career as well as the careers of some of the other singers. After her previous studio album, 2010's There's Something About Faith, it sounded at times like Faith was simply going through the motions and had lost her passion for music. But on R&B Divas, which was released in the U.S. Oct. 2, 2012, that fire has definitely been rekindled.

Harmonious

Although this is billed solely as a Faith Evans album, the truth is the other ladies who appeared with Faith on the first season of the reality show "R&B Divas" with Faith -- Syleena Johnson, Keke Wyatt, Monifah and Nicci Gilbert -- all give memorable performances on songs throughout the album. In fact, the other four other ladies all perform solo on at least one track each. And not only that, there's also a couple of other singers in the mix at times, R&B/Gospel queen Kelly Price and a woman who's no stranger to reality TV, former "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino. But impressively, despite there being six different female vocalists on the various tracks (seven, if you count a spoken-word performance by Nicci Gilbert's mother on one song), the album never seems too crowded. Even on the two songs where all five members of the reality show share vocal duties -- "Lovin' Me" and "SisterFriend" -- the voices all manage to work together harmoniously and no one gets lost in the mix.
But in actuality, most of the songs here are a chance for each singer to showcase their stuff on their own. Nine of the 12 tracks feature just one vocalist, with most being strongly sung, ear-friendly tunes, particularly Keke's sexy jam "Mr. Supafly," Faith's danceable break-up song "Dumb" and Syleena's power balled "Stonewall." The song, which is about how despite the difficulties of the music industry, she's still able to continue pushing forward thanks to her iron will and spirituality, can also be found on her recently-released EP Acoustic Soul Sessions.

Creative, Talented

But despite the outstanding solo performances, the above-mentioned collaborative songs, "Lovin' Me (Theme from R&B Divas)" and "SisterFriend" are among the albums' highlights. "SisterFriend," as the title suggests, is an uplifting ode to sisterly love and friendship, while "Lovin' Me" is basically a pep talk about being comfortable with oneself and loving who you are, no matter what anyone else may think of you. The positive outlook of the two songs permeate the entire album and give it a mature, shiny glow.
That being said, the album's still got its few flaws. It's curious as to why this is billed as a Faith Evans album when she doesn't appear on half the songs. No matter the intent, the lack of recognition of the other four members of the cast on the packaging is unwarranted. Another flaw is the inclusion of a live version of one of Faith's mid-'90s hits, "Soon As I Get Home." It's pretty obvious that this "live" track has been majorly retouched in the studio, all the way down to the addition of a roaring crowd in the background.
But despite its minor flaws, R&B Divas is a well-sung, well-produced compilation proving that although the ladies featured on the album may not have the music industry in the palms of their hands as they did back at the heights of their careers 10 to 15 years ago, they're still creative, talented artists who still have much to offer as far as good music.

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