When Jazmine Sullivan said she would be releasing new music, I tear swelled in my eye. The idea that the Philly native, would gift fans once again brought great joy. In an era where lines of genre’s are blurred and majority of artists are gimmicks, Sullivan is that raw talent that can not be compromised. Her velvet smooth voice textured with angelic riffs compliments any woofers that spit out her sound. Sheathed in transparency, “Reality Show” is the album that sheds light on the idea of duality : appearance and reality.
Sullivan isn’t your average artist. Since her introduction in 2008, she has held tightly to the values in music she believed in. Her honesty in her vocals solidified her as one of the few female vocalists that could convict individuals with talent alone. Rooted in the soul searching traditions of R&B, Sullivan has delivered solid projects consecutively. Her voice is Di Vinci’s paintbrush and this is her Mona Lisa. Each chord, each vocal note paints the masterpiece.
Sullivan does vocal tricks that most could only hope to one day learn. In one second her voice prances on the chords allowing the melody to be the center of attention and then in the other, Sullivan releases all inhibitions. “Reality Show” connects the dots that the new era has disassociated real life from perceived reality (appearance). The Sepia cast background is found in the soulful notes of “Forever Don’t Last” as Sullivan empties her soul on the sheets of music. “Let It Burn” paints the greenery on the painting. The lyrics allow Sullivan’s voice to flourish over After 7’s “Ready or Not” sample. “Brand New” explores the skewed projections of society. It is the story book example of how someone can be a loyal only to not receive the same in return. The darkness of the masterpiece is layered in “#HoodLove” and “Veins” where Sullivan relives a detrimental relationship. “Mascara” speaks directly to the perceived reality of things. It is the rouge upon the cheeks of Mona Lisa. Nothing pulls this work of art together like “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)”. The song relishes in self worth and finding one’s own beauty. Sullivan’s unrestricted vocals awaken all emotions that the listener may have thought were dormant. She gave us Aretha on a Phil Collins – esque sound. It is the face of the painting.
The album is a well constructed project. It is Jazmine Sullivan as we have never witnessed. Sullivan maintains the integrity of R&B as she owns new sounds. “Stanley” and “If You Dare” are proof of this. Sullivan has set the tone for female artists. “Reality Show” is her Mona Lisa. Sullivan has demonstrated growth and maturity. Her skills as a writer are prominent on each track. The arrangement throughout compliments her voice well.
If you don’t have the album, cop it.