♫ Jennifer Hudson – I Remember Me
After almost three years away from the music game, Jennifer Hudson makes a stable return with her sophomore release I Remember Me. Keeping in mind that she experienced and unimaginable tragedy with the murders of her family not long after her debut release, in listening to her new album, one can’t help but feel a sense of pride, in her ability to remain strong— if nothing else. On I Remember Me, Hudson seems somewhat brand new, re-energized, and seemingly jovial despite her life tribulations. The opening track “No One Gonna Love You,” is less persistent than the title would suggest, but sets the album’s tone off in the right direction. Produced by Rich Harrison, who is known for bringing the go-go element to tracks for the likes of Beyonce and Amerie, the song finds Hudson stepping a little bit out of her comfort zone with a new spin on what could easily turn into a run-of-the-mill bad break up song, but thankfully takes a turn in a different direction.
♫ Jennifer Hudson – I Got This
Although commissioning fellow singer/songwriters can sometimes be a hit formula for many performers, sadly Hudson experiences the first of a few noteworthy misfires with “Angel,” written by Alicia Keys and co-produced by her hubby, Swizz Beatz. From the arrangement, to the lyrics, to the delivery, everything about the song sounds tailor-made for Keys. Even with her powerful vocals, Hudson can’t save the song from sounding more like a replica than something of personal substance, but manages to redeem herself on the ever powerful lead single, “Where You At,” written by R. Kelly. The song is a hybrid between being as equally commanding as it is defenseless, making for the perfect “love gone wrong” song. Along those same lines are a few other gems, including “Why Is It So Hard,” “Feeling Good,” and ‘Still Here,’ the latter of which could easily pass for a spiritual declaration of her relationship with a higher power, rather than with the man in her life.
Hudson finally tests out her songwriting skills on the title track, co-written with Ryan Tedder of One Republic fame. “I remember you, you’re who I used to be, you still look the same, but you don’t hurt like me,” she sings. “Look at my reflection somewhere my affections disappeared, isn’t here, nothing left to say.” Although it starts off strong, the song falters long before the bridge until it finally falls flat. On the same path of utter confusion lies “Gone,” which is clearly trying to be nothing more than a pop-record null of any real substance and somewhat out of place amid the other tracks.
♫ Jennifer Hudson – Where You At?
With a voice as strong as hers it’s hard to make too many wrong moves on the performance end of things. Even though she’s not completely driving the ship behind the scenes, Hudson has called upon an impressive roster of producers and songwriters (Ne-yo, StarGate, and Salaam Remi to name a few) that have helped her put together an album that seems more authentic than her first release. “I Remember Me,” isn’t perfection, but the less appealing songs are sprinkled throughout the record making for a more balanced listening experience, and stands as a good stepping stone for Hudson to completely come into her own as an artist.