18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2009
I bought the first album having heard her sing the hook on both Jay-Z and Nas records. I was very impressed with that album in the sense of it provided something different to what I was used to with R&B/Soul music. I really love this chick's jazzy feel and her voice is incredible. Songs like "Let's Rock", "Best Of Me" and "Mr Radio" were amongst my favorites.
Epiphany is an album whereby she has completely switched it up, still having that funk and jazz vibe from her previous album but with a more contemporary feel. I actually think this will appeal to a wider range of listeners as its very young, hip and fresh.
Unlike the previous album, I adore every single song on this album, and in my opinion each song has single potential. First and foremost, "On My Own" is sure to give you chills, because of the lyrical content (so many people feel this way) or because of the way she expresses how she feels with her voice. "Mr Right" will have you bopping like your listening to some funk or 80s rap music. I love the vocal harmonies on this song. "Playing Our Song" is a really fun song,for some reason it reminds me very much of the song "WOW" by Brandy...don't ask why it just does. I love this song and I am aware that Claude Kelly had input with this song. Very impressive. "Notebook" gives the old school vibe soul music, very relaxing and her voice really shines here. I can see the video for this being set in the 1920s. "Blame It On Me" is absolutely heart warming, the fact she's singing about wanting a relationship to be over regardless of the reason is touching; the same goes for "I'm Okay". Hands down "Epiphany" will be the reason people buy this album, if it wasn't for this single, I would not be aware of the album's existance (the truth). Working with Ne-Yo was a great decision on Chrisette's behalf. He is a great writer and sometimes his songs go to waste with 'certain' artists. For some reason "Another One" has a type of country vibe going on, I like the hook, but the first verse had my face twisted up because I really do not like country music. I think its just in the way she sings the song. "Porcelain Doll" is a fiesty song, and a lot of women will be singing this gauranteed. "All I Ever Think About" is a good slow jam and the vocals yet again are of a high standard. Finally, a bangin' song on the album has to be "Fragile". The hook on this song is crazy and will definately stick in your head afterwards.
Generally, her voice brings out the emotions of this album extremely well. The songs are very real, her voice is raw which makes the songs believable. I am officially claiming this as the best R&B/Soul album of this year (Hello Grammy's 2010!!). Very consistent throughout, great voice, great songs and great melodies. What more could you ask for.
MY TOP 5:
1. On My Own (I have this on repeat)
3. Mr Right
4. Playing Our Song
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2009
If you think you've got Chrisette Michele figured out her new sophomore album Epiphany may prove that you don't have a clue. Die-hard fans will be surprised to hear a deviation from what her debut promised.
With a chic new look and fresh perspective following a disastrous relationship with her former manager, the Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter is back to issue overdue ultimatums on one hand and dote on budding love on the other.
For her second go-round the 26-year-old New York native enlists the help of consistent hit-maker Ne-Yo, who pens six of the 12 tracks, including the first single also titled "Epiphany." Together they strike gold, crafting a bevy of radio-friendly mid-tempo grooves like "Another One", "On My Own," and "What You Do," the latter of which features prominent background vocals from Ne-Yo.
The results are pleasing as Chrisette turns out to be quite a muse for his "fed-up-female" lyrics and catchy melodies. It just so happens that these songs reflect some of her personal experiences during the two years since her emergence.
Producer Chuck "Major" Harmony, in-house member of Ne-Yo's Compound Entertainment, creates a musical landscape that infuses the edginess of hip-hop with the tenderness of R&B. The sound is purely 2009, invoking little nostalgia to decades past. No Nina Simone samples here, but Chrisette still croons with the jazzy-ness of Ella Fitzgerald, at times relying on the delicate rasp of her soprano-contralto.
Though writing far less than with the first project, her skills are put to good use nonetheless, especially on the haunting "Blame It on Me." "You can say whatever you like/As long as we just say good bye/Blame it on me," she pleads.
Midway through the set it's a team of unknowns who pen and produce the album's showstopper, first-rate R&B slow jam "All I Ever Think About." Chrisette wholeheartdly ditches her jazz-tinged chops for a soulful delivery that is sure to explode on urban radio if the executives at DefJam have any plans of transitioning their classically-trained artist from an underrated talent.
Near the end of the record, the tempo remains steady, but the charm of the first half has to stretch a bit farther. With Ms. Michele's craft in top form from beginning to end, however, every track served up is far from mediocre.
As sophomore albums go, changing up the formula is a win-or-lose affair; very few artists transition without alienating some sector of their audience. The same is true with Epiphany. Given the urban adult contemporary base her debut album established, Chrisette's youthful second outing is a change of pace for a host of traditional fans.
Fortunately this new project has already caught on with a new, wider group of listeners and is packed full of enough winners to make them sure fans. Epiphany, thus far, is the best female R&B record of the year, and certainly more satisfying than the much-maligned Fantasy Ride Ciara releases on the same day.
So with her personal life in the healing process, Chrisette is poised to translate her therapy into critical and commercial success.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps it amounts up to a musical prejiduce but when a song on any album says something like "featuring Ne-Yo" my caution lights go on.It's because I am expecting another product of the "United States Of Genericia" syndrome that effects most hip-hop influenced R&B artists recording today and that they seem all too obligated to embrace. A handful of artists ranging from Alicia Keys,John Legend,Raaphael Saadiq and even Imani Coppolla with her Little Jackie project seem to really be able to work credibly in both worlds.Lucky for us we can count the talented adolescent Chrisette Michele as one of them!Her debut album I Am(which I really need to hear fully) was a more sudtle jazzy effort. This one is actually quite a bit different obviously. Ne-Yo helps out as producer and his contribution is really helpful because he manages to add hip-hop to Chrisette's jazzy touches without destroying her special qualities for the sake of a quick ego trip. And that is a big key to making decent music in this day and age. The title song begins the album off with a great note;the music and the harmonic exchanges are just beautiful,one of the few songs musically AND lyrically remind me of Stevie Wonder. Especially considering it's coming from someone in the age group he was during his best period. This is a bit of a "breakup" album and not a new concept by any means. What makes this so wonderful is how sincere the whole thing sounds. There's huge handfuls of heartbreak soul ballad type tunes here,all fueled by Chrisettes piano work as well such as "Notebook","Fragile","Blame It On Me" and the ear catching closer "I'm Okay" but where she picks up the tempo on other songs such as "All I Ever Think About","Playin' Our Song" a "Mr.Right" really bring out the same genuine sense of emotional release as that wonderful title song.Chrisette's lyrics and her ability to deliver them with total chutzpa and feeling."What You Do" features Neo as a backup singer and is one of the best uptempo songs on the album,funky with a mild early hip-hop flavor and some wonderfully jazzy chord progressions:it reminds me of the musical innovations on that Aaliyah album eight years ago and makes it clear Chrisette is carrying some torch from that here,even though in this case the singing has that oddly mature pathos for someone so young."On My Own" is another great personally derived song about emotional detachment from her father....apparently and is set to a rather dramatic uptempo rhythm. My other favorite song in this is the jazziest;"Porcelain Doll" is also on the theme of independance but it doesn't sound as if it's about her dad. So basically what you have here is a set of songs where the modern day,bass heavy beats and keyboards are used in a very warm and/or personelly inviting.Either way the basic songs aren't based around a bunch of producers tricks;it's the excellent drumming of Chuck Harmony and the bass/guitar grooving of Cal Palmer and Jesse Bond that really bring out the best in the song's musically. And the best part is I really don't know who they are as musicians lol so it kind of makes it all better. Now I am reviewing the CD/DVD version because that's the one I picked up and it was because I heard the DVD featured Chrisette reciting jazzy love poetry over piano accompaniment.You get five minutes of just that which is pretty cool,and I love her whispery style. But that isn't the best part.You also have an 18 min interview where Chrisette discusses her musical relationship with Ne-Yo and Chuck Harmony as well as some of the personal motivations for doing an album like this when so many already exist,and her answers might surprise you. There's also a a video for the excellent title track.I won't ruin it for you but it's very cinematic and New York based. This album is more then worth it by itself and is definately a classic in the making;Chrisette by the way does a fairly good job of defining the term "musical classic" in her terms on the DVD. But that DVD is more then a plus for picking up this version of the album;it really does a lot to enhance the whole musical experience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2009
This album is absolutely amazing. After her wonderful debut album, I Am, I was worried that Chrisette Michele would fall victim to the infamous sophomore curse. Now, having listened to the album thoroughly, I am pleased to say that she has met and possibly exceeded the quality of her debut album. Epiphany is an experience.
The production of the album sounds a little different, a little more modern than her debut. But Chrisette has a unique and powerful voice, and her original style meets the challenge of the new production. Lyrically and emotively, it is a revelation. The lyrics are beautifully written and the emotion in her voice, particularly in the amazing "Blame It On Me," is palpable.
Blending Chrisette's beautifully aged vocals with the more contemporary production will attract grown-up music lovers and a younger audience as well. There is truly something here for everyone. As for me, it has definitely earned a prized spot in my CD changer and I have two copies - one for the office and one for the car. Enjoy!
Epiphany (of course)
Blame It On Me
On My Own
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2009
This is a great sophomore project. A different side but still great vocals and lyrics. I am so pleased with this. I saw her in concert and her vocals were better than the cd. You hear more of her range on this cd than you did on "I Am." I enjoy cd's that I don't have to skip songs. Another hit record in my opinion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
Bottom-Line: No matter what your favorite track turns out to be, "Epiphany" contains a little for everyone.
Let's face it the Rhythm & Blues/ Soul music scene is not what it used to be. The genre seems to have reached its zenith in the later `70's into the early `80's when talented acts like Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Commodores, The Ohio Players, Cameo, Ray, Goodman & Brown, Radio, DeBarge, and others stellar acts dominated the charts. That sort of talent, laced as it was with soul is hard to come by these days, in the age of "look-at-me-despite-the-fact-that-I-have-no-musical-talent" music. But there is talent still out there and Chrisette Michele is one of the best to hit the airwaves in a long while, Mary J. and the lovely Ms. Keys notwithstanding.
The 27-year old Chrisette Michele who is graced with a voice forged from angel dust and frothing ocean water, released her first studio CD, I Am, in June of 2007 on Def Jam Records. The CD was an instant hit in my household as well as with the public. The album spawned four singles: Love Is You, If I Have My Way, Best of Me, and Be OK.
Chrisette Michele went on to win a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance: "Be OK", while being nominated from a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: "If I Have My Way," as well as a BET Image Award for Best New Artist.
Now Ms. Michele is back with a brand new CD, entitled "Epiphany", released in the spring of 2009. "Epiphany" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell 83,000 copies in its opening week. To date the CD has sold some 363,000 + copies and has hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard R&B charts and spawned the singles Epiphany (track No.1), track No.3 What You Do (featuring Ne-Yo), Blame it On Me (track No. 4), and track No. 9 a remixed Fragile (featuring rapper Wale).
Who knew Jay Z's Def Jam Records, long associated with the oft-times outlandish and talentless world of Hip-Hop, could nurture, let alone release Ms. Michele's soulful CD's, but she remains at the label for this her more-often-than-not dreaded sophomore CD, and we are the better for it. From the opening notes of track No. 1 Epiphany, to the closing sweet notes of the last track, I'm Okay (track No. 12) there is everything to love and nothing to loath about this album.
Superbly engineered and produced, "Epiphany" pulls together the best of the genre and entertains without insult; the music is evocative and at times moving and reflective. Throughout this CD Ms. Michelle seems to be telling a lover goodbye; track after track she proclaims her strength and independence (and fragility) through superbly performs songs.
The very first track kicks off the break-up with a subtitle of I'm leaving...But as sultry mid-tempo (kiss-off) ballads--most written and co-produced by Ne-Yo--Ms. Michelle makes leaving as drama free as possible. Chrisette Michelle is no Beyonce, bold, brash, and even crude; no Chrisette's vocal style exudes class, hers is a more romantic soothing breakup with aromatic scents and candle light, but in the end Chrisette is saying buh-bye in no uncertain terms! "Blame it on me, as longs as its over."
And through it all the Grammy Award-winning Chrisette Michelle (even her name speak beauty) is free to explore the full range of her dynamic, if not uniquely beautiful and quixotic voice, and we the listener are the treated to a rarefied talent in the process.
"Epiphany" is a CD that I--and my wife--can and do listen to time and again and with each outing I hear something new to love. Chrisette, whose vocal styling's begs comparisons to the likes of Jill Scott, Etta James, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, and Billie Holiday, has nonetheless put together an album that is stamped with her signature sound, a sound resonating with the fresh, sunny optimism of youth (rich bass backbeats, and hip-hop undertones), but at the same time is wrapped in an old-school R&B sense and sensibility.
Like the CD that preceded it, I Am, it is hard to pin down a favorite track on "Epiphany", a CD full of laudable tracks, but if I were pinned to the ground, I would call track the title track Epiphany (I'm Leaving), followed closely by track No. 3 What You Do, TRACK No. 6 Playin' Our Song, and track No. 11 Porcelain Doll.
No matter what your favorite track turns out to be, "Epiphany" contains a little for everyone; the intelligently written song on this CD is mostly R&B, but there are hints of Jazz, and Hip-Hop sprinkled throughout the (grown-up) musical musing of this beautiful and soulful diva.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
To really be honest with you right now, there haven't really been a lot of great albums to actually come out in 2009, and more of them that actually feels like they are paperweights for spam. That also has sadly been the case with female acts too. With acts like Beyonce', Ciara and Kelly Clarkson, who have all been more about hype, released albums that somberly felt like you had just crashed down to the depths of Earth and not even coming close to have left you on cloud nine. For Chrisette Michele, she has shown that she has a lot to prove for her mark and what her songs feel like in R&B too. After the strength of her 2007 debut album I Am, there honestly has been a whole lot of pressure on Chrisette, not just to deliver, but get past the sophmore slump others have missed getting passed. Well that shows well for a Epiphany.
Chrisette Michele's 2009 sophmore album Epiphany is definitely a strong treat, and what R&B and Soul has really lost in its way now, leaning more towards Rap and Hip Hop. The songs here really sound great and bring in a strong appeal to fans, and not feeling the loss of despair. The album includes a lot of great songs, from the open-minded heartstrings of the title track Epiphany, to other great songs that don't make you feeling like your blue at the end of the day. The album also includes really upbeat titles like Mr. Right, Notebook, to the simplicity of ballads like On My Own, and the soulful and blue I'm Okay. The songs each really take you to a trip that doesn't feel like it is a waste of time, and money either. There really aren't a whole lot of letdowns here that are just wastes' of space and the ears. Chrisette delivers proof that someone who is more about heart, can deliver a much better album than what radio seems to appreciate right now.
All in all, Chrisette Michele's Epiphany is actually so far one of the very few best albums I've ever heard come out in 2009, and it shows that she has a great path ahead of her. This is honestly the kind of album that wannabe acts like Ciara, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna and others could've really dreamed of making and failed to score. I do hope that Chrisette keeps on delivering more great Epiphanies like this one shined. She is absolutely not a gimmick act and that is definitely proof on this album here.
Price: B 1/2+
Overall: B 1/2+
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
It's been nearly a month since I picked up Epiphany and I could just kick myself for not checking it out earlier. It's not like I recently learned about Chrisette Michele. I've known about her ever since her soulful, jazz-inflected vocals graced the radio with If I Had My Way back in 2007. I kept making mental notes to pick up her albums, but I kept forgetting. It wasn't until I recently caught Chrisette performing a cover of Caught Up In the Rapture during an Anita Baker tribute that I finally went through with checking her out.
Well needless to say, this girl is amazing! From what I understand, Epiphany isn't as heavy on the jazz stylings of her debut, but it's immediately evident that her silky vocals are inspired by legends like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.
Epiphany (I'm Leaving) opens with an icy atmosphere and light tinkling piano while Chrisette reflects on her man who comes and goes as he pleases with absolutely no regard for her feelings. Tired of allowing herself to be disrespected time and time again, she finally realizes he's not worthy of her. "So I think I'm just about over being your girlfriend/I'm leaving", she sings as she sashays out the door. Definitely a highlight.
Notebook is a girlish, love high look at young love. Crushing on a guy, but being too shy to tell him how you feel. "Write in my notebook/X's and O's/Beside your name/Only my notebook knows how I feel/My heart is on every page," Chrisette sighs dreamily.
Ne-Yo (who executive produced the album) drops some smooth backup vocals on What You Do, a lush head nodder calling for a guy to show his love through his actions as well as his words. "Many different times before/You were almost out the door/Then you'd say it/And I'd forget everything/Well I'm sorry to report/That's not working anymore/Now I need to see if that's really what you mean." Blame It on Me is Chrisette's big diva moment minus over the top vocal theatrics. Wanting to be set free from a relationship that's run it's course, her lover refuses to give up. She makes it crystal clear she's jumping ship and even offers to take all the blame for their split. "Blame it on me/Say it's my fault/Say that I left you outside in the cold with a broken heart... Say I'm a liar a cheater/Say anything that you want/As long as it's over!"
All I Ever Think About takes a page from the classic slow jams of the 90's. Now taking the role of a woman who refuses to let her man slip away, Miss Michele yearns "And I guess I never really ever loved no one/From the rising of the moon to the setting of the sun/It's overwhelming and I'm feeling so confused/I'm really scared lyin' here 'bout to fall/Tryin' to get back/ Yeah, I wanna get back to you/Cuz all I ever think about is you!" You'll feel every single word and wave your arms around like you're in church. Well maybe that's just me.
Playin' Our Song is a lovely slice of acoustic soul while Another One warns a lover to come correct and change his ways before Chrisette kicks him to the curb. It's reminiscent of Beyonce's Irreplacable, but I also hear traces of early Nelly Furtado. Particularly in the trippy production and the light chants of "I'm done, done, done". The heartfelt ballad On My Own is dedicated to the singer's father. While she's appreciative of his love and protection, she's a grown woman who needs to learn from her own mistakes. It's such a sweet song. Fragile is a mid-tempo plea for a man to take a chance on love and hand over his heart. The "la la la"'s are infectious.
The 60's retro sway of Mr. Right recalls Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. I love Chrisette's sassy tone and the Supremes like style of the backup vocals. "I'm changing my ways/Maybe I'll get in/You might be the man/Mr. Right, Mr. Right!" Well it turns out Mr. Right showed his true colors by treating the diva like a Porcelain Doll. Our girl is having none of it and declares "I have no choice but to show you the door/If you want to cradle me like a little girl/And lock me down/I'm not your possession/I'm a full grown woman/I am not your porcelain doll!" The dramatic closer I'm Okay caps off an enjoyable record.
Well this one's a winner. Even if I skip around, I always manage to listen to all the songs. I love that although Chrisette's inspired by the soul legends that came before her, she doesn't try to copy them. She's her own artist with her own individual style. What a breath of fresh air. Don't wait to check it out. Get it ASAP!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2009
I love this Sophomore effort!!! Chrisette is so refreshingly unique in a sea of musical mediocrity. I was fortunate enough to check out her Soundstage Concert on VH1 Soul where she performed several songs from this album. She tore into "All I Ever Think About" with so much intensity and depth that I was amazed. She sounds better live than she even does on her CD. I can put on this entire CD and just let it play - how often can you say that these days? Her sound is both mature and yet refreshingly modern - ahead of her time in my opinion. Her themes are timeless, delivered with a fresh approach. Far, far better than any of her contemporaries. Even the heavily promoted ones we can never seem to escape (who shall remain nameless). But I dare BET to let her perform this year, just bring in some new blood for a change and everyone will see what those of us who have her music have already come to know for ourselves. By the way, she actually stays dressed in her videos and presents herself as someone to be taken seriously - not just an object to simply be used and toyed with for some man's sexual gratification.
Honestly, in my opinion if you put her onstage with the well-known female artists of her generation (Ciara, Keri Hilson, Keisha Cole, Rihanna, etc), just place them all onstage together Chrisette will blow them away with her talent, intensity and unique delivery. Kind of like this generation's Patti LaBelle, in my humble opinion of course! It's just nice for a breath of fresh air and I can't forget a shout out to Ne-Yo for bringing out some of Chrisette's best work. Great collaboration! My personal favorites:
"Epiphany", "Blame It On Me", "All I Ever Think About", "Porcelain Doll". Chrisette, I just want you to keep it up 'cause your fans would like to see more of these high standards next go-round. You're in a class all by yourself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2009
I was introduced to Chrisette when I heard the hooks for Nas' "Can't Forget About You" and Jay Z's "Lost One". She did a nice job on both tracks, so I was definitely looking for some material to come out from Chrisette. When I saw the video to "If I Have My Way" on VH1 Soul, I was officially hooked. I was looking forward to her debut release,I Am. From beginning to end, you could listen to Chrisette's debut and my favorite tracks ended up being "If I Have My Way", "Best Of Me", "Your Joy", "In This For You" and "Like A Dream". I saw Chrisette live at the Black Cat in DC and the album sounded even better when she performed the majority of the tracks live. When I first heard the title track and saw the video, I was instantly hooked once again. I was looking forward to the release of her 2nd CD and for the most part, I ended up not being disappointed. The next track that became my instant favorite was "Blame It On Me". On this slow jam, Chrisette is all cried out and she doesn't care how things have to end, she just wants it to be over once and for all. "On My Own" follows a similar path as Chrisette is telling the man that she is involved with that yes we have some good things that are going on in this relationship but there are just certain things that I need to learn without you and at the time it's just better for me to be on my own. "Notebook" has Chrisette feelin' a particular guy, but she keeps the feelings to herself and talks about how she deals with them and what may happen if he ever should find out. "What You Do" features Ne-Yo, who is one of the executive producers of "Epiphany", along with LA Reid. This track explains how you can be careful about what you say around your mate, but you also have to be careful of the actions that you do at the same time. The ladies will definitely be able to relate to tracks such as "Fragile" and "Porcelain Doll". Yes these tracks do show a sense of empowerment but at the same time they also show a sense of vulnerability. "All I Ever Think About" has Chrisette talking about how she feels about a particular man. She understands that there may be problems, but at the end of everything, she just wants to make sure that they can stay together. "I'm Okay" ends "Epiphany" on a good note, as Chrisette talks about how she was hurt by the ending of a relationship that went wrong and also talks about how she is bouncing back with remembering the good times instead of dwelling on the bad times.
Overall, I think many of Chrisette's fans will be satisfied with "Epiphany". It's not "I Am", in my opinion because there is definitely an attempt being made to make this an album that will be a pop album. The material and quality is still there, but with Chuck Harmony, of Compound Entertainment, producing 9 of the 12 tracks, things take a similar tone at times. There's nothing wrong with an artist trying something different on an album, but in my opinion, it takes away from the staying power of this album. This is still a CD that should be in your collection, it just won't get as many spins as "I Am" did.
James' Top 5
2) Blame It On Me
3) On My Own
4) I'm Ok
All I Ever Think About
Playin' Our Song