March , 2011
Review by Ken Martin
"I Remember Me"
Label: Arista Records
For a spectacular and satisfying musical R&B recipe, a clever technique would be to add a dash of R. Kelly's lyrics, a sprinkle of Alicia Keys soulful style, a pinch of inspiration from Nina Simone and a small dose of Brooks & Dunn country. Stir that all together, and the final product you get is Jennifer Hudson's just released album, I Remember Me. This wonderfully mixed 12-track production gives the listener an assortment of ingredients to chose from, and none of them spoil the taste of the new direction 'Jhud' has taken on her sophomore release.
Recently, 'Jhud' honored both Keys and Kelly for their inspiration in giving the artist "her sound". The contrast in Hudson's voice from her 2008 debut to now is striking throughout the album. Many people have assumed for years that the Chicago native's strong voice was constrained to belting out "And I Am Telling You" styled ballads. Not anymore. With up-tempo tracks like "Everybody Needs Love" and "Angel," Hudson puts the R&B world on notice that I Remember Me will be an album people talk about for years.
A controversial promotional advertisement on the outside of the record simply states "the voice is back!" That particular term was once reserved for Whitney Houston in her prime. Not anymore. Over the years, the Whitney comparison has been a looming specter over 'Jhud's' career. In I Remember Me, the 29-year old singer exorcises the ghost once and for all. Her powerhouse performances on such tracks as "I Got This" and "Where You At?" give Hudson a commanding seat at the R&B luminary table.
Jennifer definitely took a risk with this album, and it paid off. The new Weight Watchers theme song of the Nina Simone remake "Feeling Good," is classic in every sense of the word. Her version of the Brooks & Dunn classic, "Believe," is nothing short of brilliant.
The former American Idol contestant definitely rolled the dice on this record, gambling the move would pay off. Its risky business to try the move on your second album, but after what she's been through in her personal life the last two years, 'Jhud' had nothing to lose. By choosing to pioneer a new sound through inspiration, the singer, like many of the great one's before her, has added another chapter to already growing reputation. She's well on her way to one day seeing the word "great" added to her name.