Prodigious singing buoys up Fantasia’s uneven ‘rock and soul’ album
Fantasia’s fifth studio album, “The Definition Of…,” sounds more musically cluttered than cohesive, but the 32-year-old former American Idol’s prodigious singing makes it worth music lovers’ while. This time, she settles more comfortably into the R&B-garnished “rock and soul” sound that frames her provocative tunes and themes.
Winning the third season of the popular talent search may have opened doors for the Grammy-winning singing champ, but Fantasia’s eventful life has had its share of hits and misses—most notable of which were her forays into theater (“The Color Purple,” “After Midnight”), the romantic upheavals that led to her much-speculated-about suicide attempt in 2010, and finding the man of her dreams in her businessman beau Kendall Taylor, whom she married last year.
Musically, the album includes tracks that showcase Fantasia’s impeccable interpretive skill and raspy vocal grit, which are best utilized in the irrepressible dance hooks of “Crazy” and the alluring midtempo harmonies of “No Time for It.”
But the recording, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 recently, makes no bones about subject matter Fantasia feels strongly about—like loyalty and fidelity. The sultry “Sleeping with the One I Love” is about a woman torn between the good man she married and the former squeeze whose memories still linger: “My baby’s like a dream/ But the other man… he haunts me.”
“Roller Coasters” (featuring Aloe Blacc) follows a small-town girl who “brought home the glory, and felt like she could rule the world.” But her rude awakening comes when she realizes the fleeting nature of success—and happiness. Is Fantasia singing from experience?
In “Ugly,” the singer is torn between financial security and romantic contentment. In the gospel-tinged “I Made It” (with Tye Tribbett), she comes to terms with heartbreak, betrayal, and the character-forming pain of rejection and failure.
The distressing confluence of temporary conditions in the aforementioned songs may have been the thorn in Fantasia’s flesh, but she acknowledges that they’ve contributed to the “soul” in her singing and made her the sturdy woman she is today. Moreover, she’s learned to take every new challenge in stride.
As she rationalizes in “Roller Coasters”: “We’ve all been there before/ Trying to get off a ride we can’t ignore/ It’s the ride of your life/ It’s the rise and fall/ Ain’t nothin’ to fear, but the fear in your mind.”
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