Has the best album of 2015 already graced us with its divine presence? I know, I know… it’s not even the end of the first quarter, but when you release a piece of work as incredible as the latest from Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show, it makes me wonder if it’s all downhill from here!
This is the third release from Jazmine, after she took an extended leave after her last album Love Me Back. In between me and the rest of her fans willing her back into the industry, there have been many flawless demos floating around the interwebs with her beautiful vocals to tide us over. Some eventually landed spots on releases (“Drive By” is a standout on 2013 American Idol runner up Jessica Sanchez’s debut) while others continue to rack up plays on my iPod.
Reality Show is diverse, powerful, experimental, feminist, bitter, soulful, angry, self-aware and about 10 other adjectives I could spout off, but won’t. There are too many great tracks on this to even waste my time with touching on the singles that have been released (but I will mention…scorching first single “Dumb” with it’s awesome Muppet video as well as personal top track of 2014, breakup anthem and vocally supreme “Forever Don’t Last”).
The narrative on “Brand New” brilliantly tells the story of a woman sacrificing herself to support her partner’s career, only to be left behind when success comes. Jazmine delivers with equal parts sass, anger and heartbreak. The track is accompanied with an excellently placed trumpet intro and outro sprinkled with Jazmine’s signature runs to make it the one of the many stand outs for me on Reality Show.
The knock on “#HoodLove” can be felt down the street while Jazmine proudly sings how she is “ride or die” for her love. Jazmine’s songwriting has always been strong but nothing resonates more than “Veins” which draws unpleasant comparisons between drug addiction and love.
“I’m a fool and he loves it” Jazmine snarkily sounds off to introduce the socially conscience, Amy Winehouse send up “Stupid Girl.” The risks and ways Jazmine experiments with her voice solidifies her as one of the most creative and distinct vocalists to come out this century. Yes, century.
Future-disco bop “Stanley” produced by Da Internz adds diversity to the lineup while “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” plays out like a tribute to self-respect while channeling legends Sade and Anita Baker. The last two minutes following the beautifully crafted key change is vocally haunting before closing out with a soft piano. “If You Dare” brings some much needed originality to the inspirational song movement. Give us that radio friendly hit you clearly deserve, Jazmine! Also, I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure she snuck in a reference to classic film Poltergeist in the bridge. Who does that?!
I cannot express enough love for Reality Show and I’ve only sat with it for a little over a month. Other standouts include “Mascara,” “Silver Lining” and “Let It Burn”…wait, I’ve listed almost the entire tracklist. Just listen to the whole thing!
Perhaps a better album will come out this year but for now the bar is set pretty damn high. Grab Reality Show available now on RCA and see her out on the road in a city near you. You can hear some of Jazmine’s tunes in our Core programs Rhythm Nation and The Blvd.
– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design