Jennifer Hudson Reinvents Disco on ‘JHUD’ (Album Review)
Jennifer Hudson has been going through a transformation lately. She has always had the big voice, but now she has the brash lyrics and brazen personality to match. In essence, she has been restyled physically and musically into a modern version of a disco diva. And I ain’t mad about it.
Whereas her previous work has been angled at proving that her big voice could thrive in a pop friendly market, JHUD is more about freedom of expression. This yields music gold when done well on tracks like “Walk It Out” and “I Can’t Describe.” On each song, Hudson has an abundance of attitude, and while they may feel out of step with her previous offerings, she seems completely comfortable. Still, the winner is “Dangerous”, a track dripping in 70’s funk, but styled for today’s listener.
The effort is less successful when left unchecked. “I Still Love You” and “Just That Type of Girl” are roller rink ready, so much so that they feel more suited to the 70’s than they do for modern radio. They both have that bounce that makes you want to dance, and the instrumentation is very bass heavy. Though these tracks are a good match for her astounding pipes, neither is memorable. They are completely lacking in the substance department and there isn’t enough unadulterated fun or joy to fill in the gaps.
She also runs afoul with the features on the album. On her most recent single “He Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” Hudson dives back into the 70’s funk well and pulls out a song that is nearly all bass. And that’s all great until Iggy Azalea crops up. It is clear that this was a late addition because the song sounds pieced together, and this lazy attempt to modernize the song is a failure. “It’s Your World,” which seemed like another standout track, is derailed by the inclusion of R. Kelly. Personal feelings aside, his presence just isn’t necessary and manages to take the steam out of an otherwise stellar song.
Thankfully, Hudson returns to her roots to close out the album. On “Bring Back The Music,” JHud laments the state of the music industry today, pleading for the music to come back. Backed by her “Hudsonettes,” her own version of Motown background singers, she goes old school and channels the essence of decades gone by. Clearly that was her intent with this album, and as a whole, she is successful.
On “Moan”, she addresses the loss of her mother with a gospel-grounded ballad. The song is simple. There is little production, and there aren’t even a lot of lyrics. It is about a moan stirring in the soul. And it is solid proof that no matter what experimentation she might dabble in, gospel is her home.
With JHUD, Jennifer Hudson has established that she has the latitude to take her career anywhere she wants it to go. She has always had confidence, but the boldness she presents on the album is brand new. It even makes her missteps admirable. Love it or hate it, JHud did it her way.
What do you think of the album? Share in the comments section below!
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