It wasn’t long after the release of her great debut, I Am, in mid-2007, that she hit the studio to work on her follow-up. Although I Am garnered a couple of Grammy nominations, it was not a commercial success; none of its singles reached the Top 20 of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and the album itself barely hit the Top 30 of the Billboard 200.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Chrisette would take things in a new direction on her new album. She co-wrote each song on her debut but only three (“Blame It On Me”, “Fragile”, “Mr. Right”) on her latest. Ne-Yo wrote six and served as executive producer with contributions from Chuck Harmony and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, among others. None of the writers or producers from her debut had a hand in Epiphany, and it shows.
The album opens with the first single, the Ne-Yo-penned title track which has become Chrisette’s most successful single yet. Chrisette says she had a realization about relationships that led her to name the album Epiphany:
“I heard the song that Ne-Yo had written titled “Epiphany”, and the word just stood out to me. It stood out to me because I’d been through a lot in my last relationship, and the word ‘epiphany’ exemplified exactly what happened in the end when I realized I didn’t have to put myself through it anymore.”
On “Notebook”, Chrisette spills her heart and puts it “on every page” about a crush she can’t find the strength to tell how she feels. The ballad would make a great follow-up single, but another option is “Blame It On Me”, one of her favorite tracks and one of the best vocal performances of the album.
Sultry “All I Ever Think About”, written by CL mentionable Jayms Madison, is another stand out on which Chrisette details the tug-of-war relationships can be. Radio-friendly and hip hop-flavored “Another One” is an ultimatum that either a significant other get their act together or Chrisette is moving on to “another one”.
The self-proclaimed daddy’s girl says the ballad, “On My Own”, reminds her of her father. “I’m very close to my dad, but recently I’ve learned how to handle situations on my own, without having him step in for me, and it took a lot of me to be able to do that.”
The album winds down with the uptempo “Fragile”, followed by the Ella Fitzgerald-esque “Mr. Right”. Chrisette shines on “Porcelain Doll”, stressing female empowerment and says goodbye to the listener and a relationship with “I’m Okay”.
Epiphany is a solid effort and avoids the dreaded sophomore slump. Chrisette sounds superb, naturally and effortlessly, throughout, and anyone going through a breakup can easily relate to the material. Whether one of Def Jam’s most promising talents becomes a commercial success or not remains to be seen, but she’s definitely a treasure to fans of good R&B music.
MY FAVES: “Epiphany”, “Notebook”, “Blame It On Me”, “All I Ever Think About”, “On My Own”, “Mr. Right”, “I’m Okay”