September 2, 2010

Test Spins: Fantasia

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Fantasia’s personal problems have been well documented. Shortly after winning American Idol, Fantasia revealed that she was functionally illiterate. She was sued for millions of dollars by her father. In 2008, she almost lost her house when the bank foreclosed on it. And then there’s her VH1 reality show, which was a thinly veiled attempt at redeeming her image before this album was released. On August 9 2010, Fantasia was hospitalized due to overdosing on aspirin and an unknown sleep aid.

Yet, despite all of the pain that has plagued Fantasia’s life, the singer has managed to record three solid albums. Her debut, Free Yourself, was a little antiquated in its sound; but, by the time her self-titled follow up was released, Fantasia had cemented herself as an R&B force to be reckoned with.

On her third album, Back to Me, Fantasia merges the sounds of her first two records to form a more complex canvas of music.

Back to Me opens with “I’m Doin’ Me,” in which Fantasia asserts her independence from a controlling man. This flows very nicely into the album’s lead single “Bittersweet,” in which she laments the end of a relationship. Both tracks were produced by Chuck Harmony, who also helped Chrisette Michelle blend her old school sensibilities with those of modern R&B.

Some of the record’s other highlights include “Collard Greens & Cornbread” and “Man of the House.” The latter was written by Ne-Yo, who demoed the track before sending it to Fantasia. His version garnered more than a few spins when it leaked out a few months ago, so Fantasia’s was a bit jarring at first. But, she does a nice job with it. “Collard Greens & Cornbread,” meanwhile, is a likely candidate for R&B Song of the Year come Grammy night.

The album’s only real misstep is “I’m Here.” Originally recorded for The Color Purple’s soundtrack, “I’m Here” feels out of step with the album’s overall tone.


Original Author: Wesley Ambrecht