Beyonce might be the current first lady of R&B, but Faith Evans proves on her new release that there's competition for the top spot. First Lady (released March 29th, 2005) is a musical mood ring, encapsulating and displaying the last ten years of her life. It’s not all reflective, however, as there are plenty of party worthy tracks spread between the affecting intensity and veteran of the game vocals.
“I lost a husband, a label, I’ve gained weight, lost weight. These are all things that are a part of my life and of my music, but I’m able to take the good and the bad and grow. After three albums I know that nobody can do what Faith Evans does like Faith Evans.” Faith puts it all on display here and finally uncovers the unique songstress buried beneath the rumors and drama surrounding her life with and without Notorious B.I.G. and her record label, Bad Boy.
“Again,” the first single from The First Lady, while being an obligatory introduction to her new independence evoking identity, will disappoint the fans looking for a little more. The rest of the album, however, is a remarkable surprise.
“Mesmerize,” a track that harkens back to James Brown infected funk, shows versatility and soul as an artist. “Goin’ Out” features grooves by The Neptunes and seems likely to be a preeminent summer jam for ladies everywhere. “I Don’t Need It,” “Ever Wonder,” and “Tru Love” show off her ability to drive slower numbers with sultry relaxed vocals.
Evans has released a remarkable album with wide appeal and emotional depth for the more cautious listeners. It doesn’t transcend genres or attempt to reconstruct R&B, but First Lady will surely impress those with a taste for evocative bluesy vocals, dance numbers, and solid slow jams.