New Album Review

Chrisette Michele defies the Sophomore Jinx

Chrisette Michele: Epiphany
Released 5/5/09
4.5/5 stars

For many artists, the sophomore album is a crucial one. If its predecessor was a hit, the bar is set high, but if it was a flop, this album could feasibly make or break their career. Many artists have fallen into the curse that is the “sophomore jinx,"  but Chrisette Michele manages not only to meet the bar, she exceeds all previous expectations with Epiphany.

With Epiphany, Chrisette’s traditional vocal stylings have evolved into a more well-rounded R&B sound, retaining the jazz influences from her debut album,  I am, yet adding more of a modern, urban, youthful vibe. Epiphany mainly focuses on the joys and sorrows love brings from the viewpoint of a strong, independent woman, with a fragile heart.

 The first single "Epiphany,” bearing the albums title, begins with “It’s
over.” The Ne-Yo-produced piano driven single describes how Michele has
finally come to an important realization and decides that it’s time to
leave an unhealthy relationship. It is the perfect opening to a stellar

Following “Epiphany” is the beautifully written ballad “Notebook,”
describing how Michele is afraid to tell a prospective mate that she has
a crush and instead opts to confide in the pages of her notebook.

The album hit’s its stride with “Blame It on Me,” in which Michele
is at her finest vocally, confessing that she doesn’t care who takes the blame
for a failed relationship “as long as it’s over.”

Next is “All I Ever Think About.” Its old school R&B vibe, heavy bass and impassioned vocals make it the album’s best, as Michele bares her heart and soul over an imperfect relationship, which in fact is quite perfect.

Epiphany successfully moves from soulful melodies to urban-pop with
the acoustic guitar-ridden “Playin’ Our Song” and “On My Own.” The
former has Michele convincing herself that she’s fine after a breakup, but in reality she’s heartbroken, while the latter has Michele acknowledging its time to claim her independence and transform into a woman.

Many of the albums standouts were written and produced by R&B singer Ne-Yo, including  “Porcelain Doll, "Another One” and “What You Do.” Chrisette is a modern day Billie Holiday on the feisty empowering, “Porcelain Doll”, proclaiming boldly that she is no one’s trophy. “Another One” echo’s the sentiments of the aforementioned, as Michele confesses that she’s a “grown woman, dealing with grown woman things”. And with “What You Do”, Michele makes it clear that actions speak louder than words. 

The majority of Epiphany consists of ballads and mid-tempos, but “Mr.Right” and “Fragile”, prove Michele she can successfully tackle up-tempo’s as well. The Doo-Wop, Hip-Hop and Lauryn Hill influenced “Mr. Right” finds Michele explaining how she has found the perfect person for her. “Fragile” and “I’m Okay” expose Michele’s vulnerabilities and express how love has hurt her.

Epiphany encompasses all the qualities needed to produce a classic album, with its colorful production, catchy melodies and complex vocal arrangements, thoughtful lyrical content and unique, edgy vocals. Chrisette Michele has truly reinvigorated the world of R&B music, as Ephiphany is one of the years best.

For more on Chrisette Michele click here.

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