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4.5 out of 5 stars24
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on November 12, 2013
This is the young lady who should have WON American Idol, but that's old news. This album, while a little too "dancy" for my taste on some tracks, showcases Melinda Doolittle's incredibly powerful and soulful voice. Thankfully, the song "Home" which she performed on American Idol in one of the best vocals in the show's history is included. This song and "Give" in particular give me goosebumps every time I hear them. I hope music fans will embrace this album and give Miss Doolittle the recognition she so richly deserves. Bravo.
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on February 13, 2014
A lot has been said about Melinda Doolittle's time on "American Idol".....that she should have made the finale, that she should have won, that she was robbed...! While I do agree that she should have won season six, I also believe that both Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis have proven themselves to be serious and lasting talents, so let's put the past in the past and move on.
That said, the big question now is....why isn't Melinda Doolittle a superstar?!? Hands down one of the most talented "Idol" alums, this woman should be a megastar! You could argue that personality has a lot to do with it, that she's just too nice to make it in the industry, but I'm not buying that....look at Ellen DeGeneres.
No, I think it boils down to needing to be a bit more aggressive. Doolittle seems to have a "Whatever happens, happens" attitude/approach, which just doesn't work in today's market. If the major labels aren't coming to her, she needs to go to them. If the top producers aren't knocking on her door, she's got to rap on the windows. If the best songwriters aren't offering up their talents, she's got to make that call.
Her sophomore effort is a good example of this. While YOU'RE THE REASON is a joy to listen to ~ Doolittle sounds amazing throughout! ~ the disc just leaves you wanting....more. (Part of this is the format's fault....EP's can be a dicey prospect, given their shorter length....basically, every cut has to be a masterpiece!).
I also think she needs to stretch herself a bit more. While a lot of people have put her in the straight classic Soul diva mold (ala Patti Labelle and Gladys Knight), I think there's so much more that she's capable of....visions of Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and (especially!) Ruth Pointer keep dancing in my head, as I see Doolittle more emphatically embracing her rock, pop and jazz sides. (Heck, I can even picture a little Audra McDonald and Broadway in the mix!). Lord knows, the woman has the chops to do it!
But back to YOU'RE THE REASON. The disc opens with the lovely (and at times heart-breaking)"Never Giving Up." Doolittle's sterling lead vocal dances over the percussion-and-piano driven arrangement. There's a steeliness AND a vulnerability here that is just captivating (That said, my heart breaks every time I hear her sing the lines "I'm beautiful/No matter what they tell me"). A really, really nice way to kick things off.
I also really like "Without You", what with it's soaring lead vocal, layered backing vocals and high energy arrangement. But as good as the track is, there's also a tentativeness to seems as if Doolittle wants to jump into the rock & roll pool, but instead feels (or has been told) that she can only stick her toe in the shallow end. An 8 that could have been an 11, this track proves she's a natural, more than hinting at a direction she would be wise to persue.
The disc's title track has a joyous retro soul groove to it that just makes the listener feel good (I particularly love the scratchy vinyl effect!). Doolittle's lead vocal is rich and full-bodied, gutsy and powerful, but never, ever over the top. And, once again, the backing vocals totally complement the lead (You can tell Doolittle is a former backing vocalist...her arranging skills are spot-on!). All in all, an absolute treat.
The same can be said about "Give", but for different reasons. There's a timeless feeling to the arrangement, both in the hushed moments and the sweeping ones. Doolittle's lead vocal both soothes and soars ~ there's some SERIOUS power here, as well as some AMAZING control! Toss in thoughtful lyrics ("Everybody's reaching for something/Every day, pulling and tugging/Always wanting a little more/Holding on to hurt like an anchor") and you have a song that, say, Natalie Cole would kill for! Another winner.
"I Believe In Love" is a thing of beauty, particularly the opening bars. Accompanied only by Tre' Corley's tasteful, yet eloquent, piano, Doolittle's stunning lead vocal weaves it's way around the melody. However, where most of today's singers would end up blasting it out by the end of the second verse, beginning of the third (gotta show off those runs!!), Doolittle holds back, letting the melody and instrumentation and EMOTION speak for themselves...and shine. Lovely.
Oft times the problem with putting a second version of a song on an album, particularly an EP, is that it leaves you wondering "Why?" Is it filler? Is it it meant to make the album look/seem longer? Did they run out of money? Did it rob the place of another new song? In the case of the extended version of "You're The Reason", it just made me think of all the things Doolittle could have done....a little scat, a semi-spoken interlude, etc. O.K., but I would have preferred an additional new track.
Closing things out is "Home", a beautiful slice of movie/showtime magic. Everything just works here...the regal strings, the gorgeous lead vocal, the snapping fingers over the first all just BLENDS. And that, my friends, is a testament to the power and talent of Melinda most cases, a song like this would stand out like a sore thumb. In her capable hands, however, it just sparkles.!
So, where does Melinda Doolittle go from here? She's proven time and time again she's got talent, and YOU'RE THE REASON just reinforces that theory. But in today's industry, that's just not enough.
Now, she needs to play with the big boys and girls. I'd like to see her writing with everyone from Alicia Keys and Pink to Sheryl Crow and Mary J. Blige. And I still want to see her do a duet with Michael Johns! I'd also love to see her work with producers as diverse (and strong) as Rick Rubin, Prince, David Foster, Pharell Williams, Matt Serlatec and Wendy & Lisa. This is an artist who has yet to paint her masterpiece.....thing is, to do that, she's going to have to use her full palette. I've often said that if I was ever in the position, I would sign Melinda Doolittle in a heartbeat, then do everything in my power to make her a star. Here's hoping someone beats me to the punch! (As with all my reviews, I'm docking the disc half a star for not including the lyrics).
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on December 16, 2013
I have been anxiously waiting new music from Miss Doolittle. This EP was more than worth the wait. Dazzling is the word I use to describe the rich lyrics, mesmerizing tone and stunning vocals. I think each of us can relate to the songs on this EP, as they tell stories of love, hope, endings, and new beginnings. "Give" is such an important song, truly perfect for reminding ourselves the importance of giving to others so that we can then receive gifts. The EP even includes a fan favorite American Idol performance, "Home", sung now in a whole new way so listeners can gain new appreciation for this gorgeous tune.
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on December 21, 2013
... so thrilled that, on this collection of songs, Ms. Melinda Doolittle made the choices that she did!!!!! Because, although, i love hearing her sing these and other ballads, the "UPBEAT" tracks on this album inspire me to walk, exercise, celebrate life, AND yes DANCE!!! not a bad thing to dance; especially at 65. I haven't enjoyed a voice as much as I do hers, in years. Ms. Doolittle; so full of life and love ... ~
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Melinda's "Coming Back to You" 2009 CD after her American Idol third place showing yielded three #1 songs in my personal top ten, a rare feat from one CD, "Dust My Broom," "Walin' Blues" and "Fundamental Things." "You're the Reason" is her next release after several mp3 tracks. The sound is quite different, smoother, less blues, more expansive pop. When I first listened, it was so different than "Coming Back to You," that I felt disappointed. I listened again and warmed to her sound. Now I spin it only to find that Melina Doolittle magic casts a gorgeous sonic spell. The opener "Never Giving Up" is an anthem to positive romantic thinking, "Even if the fall leaves me broken, even if you tell me it's hopeless, I'm never giving up." It's superb! Just as wonderful, "Give" has a lovely lush string background, "Holding onto hurt like an anchor, treating those you love like a stranger, taking names & keeping score, we all know what we're really after." The title track laces Melinda's expressive vocals over a dance beat, "The only one I see is you, babe." The track "Home" amazes me as Melinda's vocals stun the listener with her range, emotional reach and phrasing. Melinda Doolittle is truly a talented singer, well worth exploring on this gorgeous EP! Enjoy!
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on March 2, 2014
I'm so glad that Melinda's sophomore effort continues to fulfill the promise that she showed on American Idol. You just can't pigeonhole this girl; she does so much so well! I love, love, love I Believe in Love (her fav on the EP); as well as I can't stop dancing (in my car or at my desk) to You're the Reason (U.R.Y.)! Every one of these songs has their own personality and each touches you in their own way. Finally, we have Melinda's version of Home (something her fans have wanted since she sang it in the Top 12 Diana Ross Week). Yes, I HIGHLY recommend this EP to Melinda's fans, old and new!
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on May 2, 2014
Melinda's voice seems to be stronger and more magestic than before. She is singing total madness here, and I love it!!!! The only drawback to this cd is that it only had 7 songs. I would have loved to here, at least, the standard 12 to 14. Still, this young lady made the best out of it and she carried it to the utmost. I spun this disc, at least, 4 times around, and I never got tired. She has that "IT" factor, and if you don't believe me, then just get a copy and listen. I guarentee that you won't be dissapointed....AT ALL!!!
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on December 5, 2013
I have been a Melinda Doolittle fan for years. Her voice is absolutely wonderful. It's nice to see more music from this brilliant vocalist and writer. The music on her new EP is breathtaking. I especially love "You're the Reason" and her awesome version of "Home." It's well worth the price.
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on May 16, 2014
Every once in a while, an album is produced that knocks you off your feet - this one is it! The arrangements, the musicianship and the dynamite vocals makes this, in my opinion, the best R&B album of the year or any other year. No fillers on this album, every song is a winner!! Just kick back and listen.......each song seems to get better, concluding with a jaw-dropping rendition of HOME. Thank you Miss Doolittle for this lovely, lovely album.
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on April 20, 2014
Melinda Doolittle has such an amazing voice and she uses it to full effect on this CD. Melinda was a standout on season six of American idol and can sing just about anything well. These songs all show off her talent very well. The only thing that I don't like about it is that it isn't a full length CD but I am happy to take what I can get. Try this CD, you won't be sorry.
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