It’s been almost two years since Jennifer Hudson blazed through movie theaters in “Dreamgirls,” picking up an Oscar along the way.
And rather than jumping on the opportunities provided by her success, Hudson took time crafting her self-titled debut album. After such a long wait, the results are enjoyable, but nowhere near as sensational as her “Dreamgirls” performance suggested she could be.
Here Hudson’s sound is much more contemporary than that of “Dreamgirls.” The album opens with “Spotlight,” a pleasing first single, which deserved a better radio reception when it was released this summer.
“If This Isn’t Love” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Like most other mainstream pop and R&B, love takes the front seat in almost every song. There isn’t anything wrong with the numerous love songs, but they’re mundane.
Luckily for Hudson, her voice overcomes blandness in ways most other artists couldn’t. And boy, is it one hell of a voice.
Hudson is able to express real emotion rather than simply nailing the technical factors of holding on to notes for long stretches of time.
The album’s best is “Pocketbook,” a sassy ditty featuring Ludacris, in which Hudson’s voice bounces up and down as if she’s playfully strutting her stuff while walking down a sidewalk. It’s the album’s only real shot at radio, and more tracks should have been modeled on its upbeat style.
Fellow Season 3 “American Idol” contestant Fantasia shows up on “I’m His Only Woman.” The two powerhouse voices wail at each other in a “The Boy is Mine” way.
A slightly condensed version of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is tagged on the end, as is the simple, yet soulful “Jesus Promised Me a Home Over There.”
The gospel may turn off many listeners, but there’s no denying Hudson’s comfort in the genre. Here’s praying Hudson’s next effort is a bit more exciting.