Album Track Listing

Faith Evans:The First Lady
The First Lady

Release Date: 16 May 2005

Reviewed By: Belinda Boakye


1. Goin' Out - ft, Pharrell, Pusha T

2. Again

3. I Don't Need It

4. Stop N Go

5. Mesmerized

6. Tru Love

7. Jealous

Ever Wonder - ft, Mario Winans

9. Catching Feeling

10. Get Over You

11. Until You Came

12. Lucky Day

13. Hope (Twista ft, Faith)

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The first lady of hip hop is back with a brand new album appropriately titled ‘The First Lady’. Having been starved of any solo material since her last release in 2001, this long anticipated album marks a metamorphosis for Faith Evans into a state of musical autonomy. With 52 minutes of silky vocals and a variation of infectious beats and slow sultry rhythm and blues, this record has all the ingredients needed making it emulate the class and tightly toned sound of Evans’ new physical appearance.

The signature synthesised trumpet intro from The Neptunes-produced ‘Goin’ Out’ hails Faith’s arrival back on the scene and back on top form. This up-tempo opening track is a delicious fusion of her unmistakable laid back breathy vocals and the contagious floor filling minimalism of a Pharrell inspired bass beat. Her distinctive sound and use of layered vocals prevents the track from sounding like another generic Neptunes production. On a superficial level the lyrics may seem light and carefree, however, a closer listen will unveil the voice of a diva, strong and resolute sending out the message that it is OK to be on your own. With this in mind, it becomes obvious why this is the opening track to her first album; it is in response to her break with P. Diddy’s Bad Boy label and the notoriety of her past.

Now the ‘First Lady’ of EMI/Capitol Records, Faith Evans has made a concerted effort to break free from negative press that has plagued her career; the next track, ‘Again’, sensitively addresses this issue and makes a direct reference to her recent arrest on drugs charges. However, she retains an air of elegance and candidness in the way she deals with the issue; all to the laid back Motown-reminiscent sound and drums and bass sure to exercise your speakers.

As the first release from the album, ‘Again’ symbolises a personal evolution aided by the influence of her husband and manager Todd Russaw. This partnership seems to be stronger than ever and as a result, they co-produced and co-wrote what I would describe as the highlight of the album, ‘Mesmerized’. A cross between the James Brown and Lyn Collins sound, ‘Mesmerized’ retains all the funk of that era, but yet Evans has imprinted her soul on it to bring it into the 21st century. In my opinion, Evans achieves everything that Beyoncé was attempting to do on her solo effort, ‘Work It Out’. Faith’s more subtle approach is of equal conviction, and creates an outstanding club hit that you’ll want to put on repeat.

It is a shame not to hear more up-tempo songs as Evans tries to fulfil the demands of her core fans with her renowned ‘backroom ballads’. Most notable amongst these are ‘Catching Feelings’ and ‘Stop n Go’. However, the track list organisation remains dubious as these are placed amongst the faster tracks which generates an annoying disjuncture to the whole album. Aspects like this disappointingly let the overall end product down, as there is a lack of focus and direction. Similarly, the inclusion of the ‘token duet’ with Mario Winans on ‘Ever Wonder’ and Twista on ‘Hope’ add to this problem. The former can be described as nothing more than a weak vocal from Mario Winans, which impacts negatively on the already average song. The latter seems out of place and redundant in relation to the overall sound of the album, tagged on the end as if there was nowhere else to put it.

If you are able to overcome these inconsistencies and focus on the quality vocal which does remain consistent throughout the awaited fourth album, ‘The First Lady’ is sure to satisfy all demands. It’s good to see Faith Evans back with an unfailing spirit and soul, and I hope that the momentum set by this record continues with her next project.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Top Three Tracks:
5) Mesmerized
3) I Don’t Need It
12) Lucky Day

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