Saturday, January 20, 2007

CD Review: Fantasia by Fantasia

American Idol season three winner Fantasia is back with a slick new sound on her self-titled sophomore album. This album finds Fantasia continuing to come into her own as an artist and establishing herself as more than just a reality show contestant. Featuring a Who's Who list of top R & B producers, Fantasia is a solid album from start to finish.

The album opens with "Hood Boy," the current single featuring Big Boi of the hip-hop duo OutKast. The song is another twist on the same territory covered by songs such as "Soldier" by Destiny's Child. What makes this song more than a retread is how fun it sounds. From its catchy, sample-driven beat to Big Boi's verse (the only guest appearance on the album) and the energy Fantasia puts into singing the song, "Hood Boy" just hooks you from the start.

The same feelings you get from "Hood Boy" also crop up again on the hilariously named "Baby Makin' Hips." Producers Dre and Vidal use a horn-driven Al Green sample to provide the backdrop for this song for the girls with an actual figure. Fun is the key here again and you can't help but almost laugh (in a good way) when you hear lyrics such as Watch when they walk by / Guys get the wandering eye / They rather get smacked / Than not look back...."

There is more to Fantasia than fun songs on this album, however. When she gets serious, she's actually at her best. Songwriter Diane Warren and producer Babyface team up to provide her with the ballad “I Feel Beautiful.” Fantasia has always been known for having a big voice but on this song, she refrains from a lot of vocal operatics. By toning her voice down, it gives her a bit of vulnerability. Knowing what we do about Fantasia's life from her book and TV movie Life Is Not A Fairytale, the lyrics of the song carry a little more weight: "You tried to keep me down on my knees / I got myself back up on my feet / I found the strength to set myself free / And I feel / Beautiful..."

Other songs on Fantasia show her strong side. On "Not The Way That I Do," she chastises her man for thinking that he can get away with stuff his ex let him do. "Two Weeks Notice," one of three songs produced by Missy Elliott, has Fantasia leaving her man after feeling unappreciated. After hearing too many excuses from her man, Fantasia gets sick of it all on the uptempo "Bore Me (Yawn)."

Fantasia is a pretty good sophomore effort. She shows quite a bit of range here whether she's fun, sexy, angry, or vulnerable. With so many producers on this album, it would've been easy for her to be lost in the barrage of different approaches and sounds. However, since there is only one guest star, there's no one else to potentially muddy things up and make the album lose focus. This album shows that Fantasia is secure in how she presents herself and secure in her talent and these are the reasons why she still has a viable music career today.

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