Rachelle Ferrell: Individually (Can I Be Me?)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
While her album entertains with a pleasant groove and a variety of electronic textures, Rachelle Ferrell shares only about half her true talent with the audience. Preferring instead to cover the session with background vocals, droning hip-hop rhythms and movie soundtrack effects, she weaves an acrobatic voice around originals that offer stories of romance and other personal relationships. Her extended vocal range allows the singer to perform difficult passages with ease. A natural blues and gospel sentiment pours forth effortlessly. When she sings "I Forgive You," her convincing message digs deeply into the listener's heart. All the extra sound textures, however, do get in the way. It's like trying to propose marriage in a crowded train station.
Ferrell's own piano accompaniment provides the singer a mechanism for total immersion. Moaning and emoting with charged, wordless shouts, she screams, "Why You Wanna Mess it all Up?" Her emotional highs are quite effective. Coming at you right and left with full power, Ferrell provides a convincing argument. Employing both loud strategy and soft come-ons, she's effective at explaining her position. As an interpreter, Ferrell has few peers. The album's high point comes on its final track, when her accompaniment is pared down to piano, bass, drums and guitar. Ferrell's voice is then allowed to shine brightly over a modest arrangement. Duets with Jonathan Butler and her brother, Russ Barnes, add a measurable lift to this third album from Rachelle Ferrell. However, with so much going on, the true appreciation of her superb vocal talents becomes an unwanted test of the listener's ability to focus.
Track Listing: Individuality (Can I Be Me?); Sista; Will You Remember Me?; I Forgive You; I Gotta Go; Why You Wanna Mess It All Up?; Gaia; Run To Me; Reflections of My Heart; Satisfied; I Can Explain.
Personnel: Rachelle Ferrell- vocal, piano, Roland A-90, morpheus; George Duke- keyboards, keyboard bass, guitars, drum programming; Jef Lee Johnson- guitars, keyboards, bass; Byron Miller- bass; Lil
Record Label: Capitol Records