Something About Faith… That Grinds My Gears

Posted: October 31, 2010 by RA in Music
Tags: ,

Faith Evans is a talented singer. And songwriter. The woman can wail like none other, and is responsible for some classic party and Pop songs that we’ll remember for years to come. She was also at the center of the most sensational story in all Hip-Hop canon, as the wife of one third of its holy trinity and the alleged lover of another.

She also is a colossal tease. And kind of a hypocrite.  She spends entirely too much time explaining she technically isn’t Biggie’s widow (the two had separated at the time of his death), and she’s been remarried for over a decade. But then she peppers every other song with a winking Biggie reference that seems to stake her claim to her former position in Hip-Hop royalty.

From “You Gets No Love” to “Mesmerized”, Evans has made slyly referencing Big one of the hallmarks of her career. It would be acceptable, even kinda cute, if she didn’t didn’t try to distance herself from his memory:

While Evans was elevated to hip hop’s version of the bereaved first lady, she didn’t accept the idea that she should beocme one of those long-suffering, seemingly asexual widows like Betty Shabazz or Coretta Scott King.

“We weren’t together when he passed, ” explains Faith, shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head. “What am I going to do? Act like we were?”

in a magazine article for which she goes on to play the merry widow on the cover:

Now, I’m not begrudging her the right to move on with her life — on the contrary, I wish folks like Lil’ Kim would do the same. But there’s something about her denouncing her widowhood as she uses it to line her pockets, that comes off more than a little Courtney Love.

And there are few things worse than being likened to Courtney Love.

Still, I’ve got nothing but love for Faith Evans. Talent is something in such short supply that when someone consistently sporadically puts out great material for a decade (capped off with the stellar The First Lady album), you allow them their imperfections. The woman’s a vocal powerhouse, and is as authentically soulful as it gets in the R&B-Pop sphere. Far as I’m concerned, she’s what Mary Blige wishes she could be.

And speaking of Mary, anyone still concerned with the supposed mid-’90s feud between the two former collaborators could take the title of her latest album, Something About Faith as a subliminal (to borrow a favorite Hip-Hop malapropism) dig at MJB, possibly with a parenthesized “Instead” thrown in.

Highly doubtful, especially as this is a woman who had previously released five albums, four of which were called “Faith”, “Keep the Faith”, “Faithfully”, and “A Faithful Christmas”. Oh, and her autobiography was called “Keep the Faith: A Memoir”. While the jury’s still out on whether these titles are attributable to her extreme narcissism or mere unoriginality, I doubt Blige even factored into this latest decision.

So, after wetting our appetites in the summer with the sublimely laid-back Snoop collaboration, “Way You Move”, Faith returns with a set of songs so mediocre as to be barely worth the illegal download time. But to add insult to injury, we’re given a fresh set of Big references that are supposed to titilate, but end up falling flat.

Past Big-referencing songs like “Mesmerized” and “You Gets No Love” were strong cuts without the gimmicks, respectively building on old-school funk and street-corner sass to create solid, infectious compositions. But the Keyshia Cole-assisted “Can’t Stay Away” is barely listenable until the “Hypnotized”-aping bridge, and the Raekwon-assisted “Everyday Struggle” is a pathetic string of clichés that sounds like it was written by a needlepoint kit. (Seriously, the beat is brilliant, but the lyrics are insufferable enough to negate her entire songwriting catalogue. In fact, the lyrics are so inconsequential, it would seem the song’s sole reason for being is the Big-referencing title and track.)

And the tragedy is, these are the most interesting cuts on the album! Even the already-familiar “Way You Move” gets a slightly overworked makeover, with superfluous ad-libs and too-long hooks that rob it of some of the charm of the demo version. Lead single “Gone Already” sounds like something  Toni Braxton would scoff at as too banal. “Party” and “Sunshine” try to recapture the brilliance of First Lady‘s “I Don’t Need It” and “Jealous”, and fall on their (unoriginally titled) asses. “Troubled World” starts with Faith giving a range-busting vocal run that goes from her normal alto-soprano to a throaty baritone indistinguishable from Bilal’s. But shortly after, it falls into the realm of the mundane and never really returns.

Can’t Stay Away

Everyday Struggle

And that’s my real problem with this album. It’s not necessarily bad — it’s just… there. And for a singer/songwriter of Evans’ talents, that should never be enough. I’d love to close on a good zinger, but this album has left me so uninspired, I’m just gonna…

  1. […] and JoJo (for those who care) are assassisns trained by Faith Evans (from whom I care, despite a shitty album), on a mission to take out Hilson’s ex/lover. Turns out the punishment they had in mind was […]

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