Album Review: Don't Forget Voice Alumna Jessica Childress
March 19, 2014By Billy Delgado

Right off the bat, listening to Jessica Childress' EP Don't Forget My Name evokes memories of the mature sound of Anita Baker and the youthful emotion of Alicia Keys. You may be reminded more of Keys when listening to the title cut, "Don't Forget My Name.” The truth is this 27 year old evokes an unsullied maturity in her vocals -- an "Old Soul" if you will -- on her EP released in February.

 

I’m glad I saw Childress’ bio after listening to her music. That way I can say I truly critiqued her music for HER and not for anything she did on NBC’s The Voice Season 4.

 

Quite frankly, it’s easy to see why this singer from L.A. has been soaring since her appearance on the show last year.

 

She tells the listener "You can forget these chocolate brown eyes," which prompted me to look at her headshot. It revealed a mahogany complexion and a fountain of curls sprouting from every direction. Production wise, the track is reminiscent of Rolls Royce’s "I'm Falling Down," which was also covered by Mary J. Blige. If you miss that vintage sound like I do, this song will be sure to fulfill that craving.

 

The vintage compositions continue in "Broken" which could have very well been produced by soul music legend Lionel Richie. I'd loved to know who the producer is so I can give them my "props," but perhaps another time. She tells her heartbreaker, "You gotta wake up before we can make up. I'm gonna need some guarantee." Jessica offers that signature wail when she ad-libs toward the end of every song.

 

Then, things pick up in "I Quit" which has got...me...hooked.

 

Now, I love Motown music and I have an affinity for artists that can recreate that sound CORRECTLY. Example: Ceelo Green (see his Gnarls Barkley under-the-radar hit "Smiley Faces”). Recently, Pharell Williams has managed to get close with his hit "Happy.” Here, Jessica is doing the same, only better than Pharell, vocally and production-wise.  The horns and bass line are the stars of these instrumentals. I don't believe the violins are real but they sound convincing. And to put the vintage icing on the cake, somebody added the tambourine to shake along with the upbeat drums.

 

Fun Fact: Nothing annoys me more than those artists that fail to recapture the oldies with pathetic production and vocals. I'm not naming names because there are too many violators. Luckily, we don't have that problem here. It's frustrating when producers and singers try to go "old school" and fail miserably because they try too hard.

 

I have now just raised the volume in my headphones and rewinded the song. Way to go Jessica! Smokey Robinson would have paid to cover this song in his prime and Aretha Franklin would have slashed the tires to Smokey's car just to get to Jessica's representation first but not before the Supremes jumped Aretha, duct taped her, leaving her bound with Smokey. Meanwhile, Stevie Wonder would have had his chauffeur speed him to the record label before all of them.

 

Why the absurd visual from a blaxploitation flick? Because this is the third time I am listening to the song. It's that much fun and you would never know it was about "quitting" a job or a relationship from hearing the lyrics -- although quitting a job would be a happy day for a few folks at a miserable 9-5. The same for a dead-end relationship.

 

The next track tells me they're now getting ahead of themselves with the classic ‘70s organ that introduces "Room to Breathe.” They avoid the redundancy with a bouncy feel when the chords strike along with the snare drum. Jessica Childress could have easily fit in the ‘60s & ‘70s. Taking nothing away from her powerful vocal, but this is a true testament to how she and her team have captured that classic soul sound.

 

I was about to give this EP a full four stars until "Walk Away" came through my headphones. I'm a little bored with this song because we already went there with "Don't Forget My name" and "Broken." Still, the effort is there. I can't complain. The production is still tight even if the song is a yawner. The fact is Jessica can sing and it's such a doggone conspiracy that the likes of Ke-$ha garner more Billboard love than actual talented songwriters and vocalists. Liking four songs out of a five-song EP is a rather impressive feat in this post-modern-What-have-you-done-for-me-lately-A.D.D.-having smart phone addicted society. The UK may love this EP considering Amy Winehouse and Adele have similar vintage sounds and were stars there.

 

The only thing I could recommend, for what it’s worth, is that is that if choruses were a wee-bit tighter and catchier, then there would be no fight for heavy rotation play. Honestly, I didn't pay that much attention to the lyrics because the arrangement of the vocals didn't demand my attention as much as I felt it should. In today’s hook-driven Top 40 station, we have come to expect this brand of ear candy rather than this masterfully-soulful production. Still, I am definitely intrigued and a new fan of Jessica Childress.

 

 

The self-proclaimed Zig Ziglar of rap, Billy Delgado, is a Music Producer/Artist and Writer by day and sleeping pillow-drooler by night. He is currently producing the debut album for his band The 288's, a God-inspired Hip Hop/R&B group that combines soul-baring lyricism with an electric innovative sound, breaking from the norm and reaching all cultures & ages (save senior citizens). He still can't believe he's a family man with a beautiful wife Mari & three boys Chris, Nelson and Joshua, so he continues to pinch himself silly to this day.

 

 

 

The self-proclaimed Zig Ziglar of rap, Billy Delgado, is a Music Producer/Artist and Writer by day and sleeping pillow-drooler by night. He is currently producing the debut album for his band The 288's, a God-inspired Hip Hop/R&B group that combines soul-baring lyricism with an electric innovative sound, breaking from the norm and reaching all cultures & ages (save senior citizens). He still can't believe he's a family man with a beautiful wife Mari & three boys Chris, Nelson and Joshua, so he continues to pinch himself silly to this day.

 

 

- See more at: http://www.newdmagazine.com/apps/articles/web/articleid/79282/columnid//default.asp#sthash.rR184hJD.dpuf

 

 

 

 

The self-proclaimed Zig Ziglar of rap, Billy Delgado, is a Music Producer/Artist and Writer by day and sleeping pillow-drooler by night. He is currently producing the debut album for his band The 288's, a God-inspired Hip Hop/R&B group that combines soul-baring lyricism with an electric innovative sound, breaking from the norm and reaching all cultures & ages (save senior citizens). He still can't believe he's a family man with a beautiful wife Mari & three boys Chris, Nelson and Joshua, so he continues to pinch himself silly to this day.

 

 

- See more at: http://www.newdmagazine.com/apps/articles/web/articleid/79282/columnid//default.asp#sthash.rR184hJD.dpuf

 


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