The go-to performer for a cover performance on any award show/special event, Jennifer Hudson has always underwhelmed with her own material. She’s had some great songs on her previous 2 albums (“Spotlight”, “If This Isn’t Love”, “Pocketbook”, “No One Gonna Love You”, “Gone”, “Why Is It So Hard”), but the rest has sounded like they were pulled from a R&B 90s catalogue that was gathering dust in the corner. They were decent, but not worthy of Jennifer’s super talent.
Well, Jennifer has finally delivered a fresh and worthy collection of songs. It’s perfect that she’s self-titled this album with her nickname because I would want my name associated with these tracks too. The opening voice on the Timbaland-produced “Walk It Out” says “You must have the right producer with the know how of putting tracks together on a good recording”. Amen, and Jennifer has the best in the biz here. Along with Timba, Pharrell Williams produces 3 tracks here (“He Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” featuring Iggy Azalea, “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)” featuring T.I., and “Just That Type Of Girl”). Pharrell smartly sticks with his pulled-back bass grooves and lets Hudson’s voice soar.
With the first half of the album being so guest-heavy, I was concerned the second half would suffer, but nope. “Bring Back The Music” appropriately turns everything down to about a 3 on the dial, from the vocals to the drums to the piano. It’s a unique standout. And wait until you hear “Say It”. You’ll want to strut down the street listening to that one. It reminds me a little of Michael Jackson‘s “The Way You Make Me Feel” and that’s quite the track to be associated with.
The interesting thing about JHUD is that it manages to take a disco sound and give it an updated, grittier sound. Jennifer avoids the ballads this time around and instead goes for upbeat R&B melodies, but that doesn’t mean her powerhouse voice is lost in the mix. Her voice is still the star here, and she sounds spectacular. She sounds relaxed and more comfortable with her material than she ever has before.
Jennifer only gives us one ballad at the end, and it’s a stunner. On the closing track, “Moan”, Jennifer sings about her mother who was murdered by her brother-in-law in 2008. Accompanied just by a piano, the track opens with Jennifer singing…
Everyday I hear my Mama say ‘child, moan’
Every way she’s still with me everyday in my, in my song
The devastating track runs for almost 7 minutes and you’ll be enthralled the entire time. Jennifer didn’t need any more ballads on this one, because this one is the end all.
At a tight 10 tracks, there’s absolutely no filler on JHUD. Every track is a winner. The Oscar winner has produced one of the best albums of 2014.