Two things become obvious when listening to Paige Bryan's debut album, Imperfect Me. One is that she's had a lot of relationship woes during her young life, because most of the 13 songs reference in some way the problems that come with being in love. The other is that she's a big fan of 1990s R&B, the time period where artists like Loose Ends, Vanessa Williams, SWV and Pebbles were at or near their peak. Imperfect Me, released in the U.S. on Nov. 16, 2010, isn't just a nostalgia album, however. It's a well-sung, lyrically outstanding album about a woman's journey through life.
A Strong Identity
is much different than your typical contemporary R&B release, and one of the reasons why is how it was put together. Unlike the modern-day formula where an assortment of songwriters and producers contribute and songs and created like a car on an assembly line, this album was essentially the baby of two people: Paige Bryan herself and producer Chaka Blackmon. Paige wrote all her own lyrics on the album, and each song is produced by Blackmon. The result is a very strong identity, one that's steeped in '90s R&B and hearkens back to the pre-iTunes era, where there was more emphasis on albums as complete packages that were consistent from beginning to end, instead of today's formula, where the focus is more on making ringtone R&B.
As far as the content itself, Paige's lyrics are very strong. Songs like "Sick 'N Tired," where she calls out a no-good boyfriend, the I-need-some-space song "Breathe," and the self-criticizing "Silly Girl" are all strong female empowerment anthems that many young women will definitely be able to identify with. Her voice is also strong for the most part; if she were on a major label, there's no doubt she could be a star; Paige's vocals are up there with those of Keyshia Cole, Keri Hilson and Ciara as far as tone and quality. That said, she also sounds noticeably flat at times on a handful of songs, most noticeably the title track.
A Significant Force?
As mentioned above, there's one producer for the album, and although Chaka Blackmon is a very capable producer and his work is solid through-and-through, it lacks a certain modern twist that most music listeners in Paige's age group have come to expect. Although it's debatable as to whether the album would have suffered creatively if flourishes like Auto-Tune, guest rappers and hip-hop beats were used on the album, it would have been nice to hear Paige flow over a couple of songs that had a more contemporary sound.
But overall, Imperfect Me is a very solid debut by a smart, talented young singer. She chose to release the album through Jungle Funk Records, and it's executive produced by her father, the actor-comedian Sinbad (yes, that Sinbad). But despite having a famous father, Paige is not just some rich girl having fun with Daddy's money. If she ever decides to go to a major label or expand the circle of people she collaborates with, then watch out, because she definitely has the skills to become a significant force in the music industry.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy