Album Review: Jennifer Hudson, JHUD

jhud new crop


Jennifer Hudson

JHUD (to be released September 23, 2014)

The whole world is riding a wave of nostalgia right now. Transformers and Ninja Turtles are blowing up bad guys in movie theaters; preteens are walking around with high-top fades for some ungodly reason; and even though Michael Jackson’s been in the ground since 2009, he has one of the best albums of the 2014.

So you can’t blame Jennifer Hudson for seeing an overcrowded market and saying “meeee too!”

Sorry for the obscure Simpsons reference. I told you I’ve been on my nostalgia kick.

J-Hud’s long been known as one of the biggest voices in R&B but on her new album  – called, um, JHUD – she puts away the power ballads and turns back the clock.

She’s here to have fun.

Some of the biggest hits in the past two years have leaned heavily on classic R&B sounds. JHUD runs with that concept, immersing itself in R&B’s funk and disco past to create music that appeals to experienced listeners but feels fresh for younger fans.

Yeah, I know “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)” seems like it’s been around forever, but it’s still as infectious as the day you first heard it. It’s packed with energy but remains light and not at all gimmicky. On the fun-filled “Dangerous,” Hudson proudly proclaims “do it for the thrill, even if it kills.” She ain’t worried ’bout nuthin’.

J-Hud takes spin around the disco on “It’s Your World,” with a surprise guest spot from R. Kelly, who is almost unrecognizable on first listen. “I Still Love You” keeps the good times rolling too – close your eyes and you can see the Soul Train line forming. And while it’s received mixed reviews, I’m a big fan of the Timbaland collaboration “Walk It Out.” It doesn’t really fit the album’s throwback theme but it’s a very different type of track for Hudson, who struts along the hip-hop chords with tons of confidence.

The album closes with “Moan,” the traditional J-Hud lung-busting ballad. It’s not a bad song but it’s inclusion seems very unnecessary – and at seven minutes long, unneeded. A better showcase of her pipes is the angelic “Bring Back the Music.” It’s proof that J-Hud didn’t need to drag out another torch song to prove that she can still sing. Don’t worry, we ain’t questioning you, playa.

JHUD is just 10 tracks long so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. But besides the singles, there’s not much here that stands out. It’s a nice stroll down R&B’s memory lane, though.

Best tracks: “Walk It Out,” “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel),” “Dangerous”

3.5 stars out of 5


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