Jennifer Hudson – JHUD (2014) [FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Jennifer Hudson – JHUD (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 43:50 minutes | 513 MB | Genre: R&B
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Front Cover | © RCA Records Label

For her third album Jennifer Hudson’s voice is a thrilling thing set in a workaday, loosely 70s-inspired “urban” blot of backing. There are highs – a belting gospel-house duet with fellow US midwesterner R Kelly, and an album closer with a Whitney-tight grip on the heartstrings, written for her murdered mother. (There are lows too – Iggy Azalea features.) There’s always a gooey pleasure to hearing her sing, but you’d hope someone launched through gospel to the American Idol finals and an Oscar win might find better material in an R&B world thundering with great songwriters.

At the 2013 Soul Train Awards, Jennifer Hudson sang “I Can’t Describe,” the first single from her third album, which was ten months away from being released. Produced and written by Pharrell Williams, the song could pass for a synthesizer-less cover of a bounding early-’80s post-disco jam created by Kashif and his associates for Melba Moore or Evelyn King. For the Soul Train performance, Hudson was joined by King and Chaka Khan (as well as guest rapper T.I.), and the backing band easily slipped into King’s Kashif collaboration “I’m in Love” and Rufus & Chaka’s “Do You Love What You Feel.” It was a bold way to honor those who came before Hudson, who previously drew from ’70s and early-’80s styles in the likes of “Spotlight” and “Everybody Needs Love.” That spirit fills JHUD, a predominantly uptempo affair with a big chunk of material that recalls the disco and more electronic post-disco eras. Williams provides two other songs in a similar mode, both of which are uncomplicated but stimulating, built on rumbling/throbbing basslines. One of them, unfortunately, is spiked by Iggy Azalea. For “It’s Your World,” Hudson turns to fellow Chicagoans Terry Hunter and R. Kelly. The drum intro is almost identical to that of Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s “Running Away,” while what follows is closer to the 1978 version of the vibraphonist’s “Sweet Tears,” graced with soft electronic piano and made harder with house-strength kick drums. Hudson, however, is in full-on diva mode, promising to make her duet partner’s dreams come true. Some of the songs could have been fronted by anybody. Hudson occasionally sounds disconnected from the material, but the singer, as powerful as ever, still leaves her indelible mark on everything — even “Walk It Out,” a pattering Timbaland/J-Roc production that one can imagine being fronted by Justin Timberlake. Fans of Hudson’s gospel-fied ballads get one treat at the very end — a stirring but incomplete/unedited-sounding Mali Music collaboration that lasts seven minutes and quickly fades out. ~ Andy Kellman

01. Dangerous
02. It’s Your World
03. He Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
04. Walk It Out
05. I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)
06. I Still Love You
07. Just That Type Of Girl
08. Bring Back The Music
09. Say It
10. Moan