Jennifer Hudson: JHUD

Posted September 23, 2014 by in Disco



3.5/ 5


Genre: , ,
Producer: , , , , , , ,
Genre: R&B, soul, disco
Producer: Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis, Gorgon City, Terry Hunter, J-Roc, Stephen Kozmeniuk, Mali Music, Nineteen85, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 43:54
Release Date: 23 September 2014
Spin This: "Dangerous," "It's Your World," "I Can't Describe (How I Feel)"


Hudson's diva pipes are planted where they rightfully belongs: On great disco beats


Songs lack definition of pop sovereignty and timeless glow

Confident, uptempo jams dominate on Hudson’s third album

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Confident, uptempo jams dominate on Hudson’s third album

Even with an Oscar and a Grammy resting comfortably on her trophy shelf, Jennifer Hudson is a long ways from overtaking Aretha’s crown. And despite the infatuation of music mogul Clive Davis to transform her into the Whitney Houston of her generation, the soulfully blessed singer still hasn’t landed on a worthwhile collection of music since she sung karaoke classics on American Idol. “Spotlight,” a mid-grade R&B number puckered up with Ne-Yo pleasantries, proved to be a satisfying entry into the real world of music, but rested too heavily on the backs of Ne-Yo’s “Because of You.” Everything that came afterwards except for her fiery rendition of Jennifer Holliday’s Dreamgirls power ballad “And I Am Telling You” seemed below the belt for Hudson’s heavy-piped gift. Even the 2011’s “Where You At,” a poorly R. Kelly ballad dripping with grammatical poison, ate away at her potential. Now after reigning as a weight loss spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and sharpening her acting resume, Hudson is jumping back into the music game and following the advice of trusted music critics – like myself – to pump out uptempo songs that best compliment her diva prowess.

Recalling the house-peppered “Everybody Needs Love” from the I Remember Me album, Hudson proved she could exercise her combustible pipes on something akin to classic disco. That kernel of truth may be the inspiration for Hudson’s third studio album, JHUD. With top producers Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and RedOne at the helm, the ten-track collection is almost entirely upbeat and swings like a NYC DJ’s soundtrack on cruise control. The best is pushed straight to the front: “Dangerous” is deliciously catchy and mimics the bass walks of Dennis Edwards’s “Don’t Look Any Further.” She’s also brazenly confident and matches that braggadocio at the top of the chorus: “I do it for the thrill/Even if it kills.” Almost everything that follows “Dangerous” is merely complimentary to what’s already been served. The opening drums on “It’s Your World” are actually screenshot from Roy Ayers’ 1977 disco-heavy “Running Away,” but then it spins into a world of Jamairoquai funk and soul fired up with sprinkles of Chicago house. Even with the unnecessary drop-in of R. Kelly on the song’s bridge and closing minutes, Hudson’s supreme belting saves the record and places her comfortably in the reins of Loleatta Holloway territory. The bass lines of “He Ain’t Goin Nowhere” mirrors “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.” Those searching for Eighties dance music will smile at the throwback sounds, even as Iggy Azalea tries spits her rhymes like a Salt-N-Pepa cast member. “Just That Type of Girl,” squeezing in Indeep’s “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” bass lines and Mary J Blige sass, keeps the cool momentum going. The Pharrell-produced “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel),” peppered with clap machine effects and bubbly bass, is just as rewarding, spinning like a nostalgic ‘80’s disco-soul record.

Not everything aboard is tagged with Donna Summer oomph. “I Still Love You,” a decent album track spiked with futuristic whirls, is suppressed by an overly-repetitive and lifeless chorus. On “Walk It Out,” you can hear Timbaland taking his production comeback too far on the intro. “You must have the right producer with the know-how of putting tracks together on a good recording,” says an unnamed announcer. The announcer repeats himself, killing anything substantial immediately following like an unexpected turn-off during sex. And “Bring Back the Music,” a love letter to the better days in R&B, hardly brings anything back.

Only the seven-minute “Moan,” the album finisher, places Hudson on a darling slow burning ballad. Immediately after the piano tinkling ends the prelude, Hudson’s passionate pleading – stretching from calm mediation to Patti LaBelle belting – rounds out the affair. If the song’s sections were trimmed down, it could have been her “Something He Could Feel” or her “At Last.” Once again, refined songwriting is what’s missing here. She’s playing with all the right elements, but it’s still missing that timeless capacity. The same could be said for much of JHUD’s uptempo tracks. They are good and instantly likable to the ear, but lack the yeasting magic that will help elevate them into pop orbit. Still, JHUD is easily her best work on record. Despite its lack of versatility and its forced focus on the boogie, Hudson sounds refreshed and alive. That’s a good thing for a four-star soul singer that remains underserved in today’s music industry.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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