Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Chrisette Michele – Epiphany

Mmm, classy…


Martin Skidmore: I was first struck by her in guest appearances on numbers by Nas and The Game, and by now I think she could become one of the first genuinely great singers of the century. This is smooth and stylish R&B, but the production seems a touch off – the beats are rather perfunctory at times, and she could have been a little further forward in the mix a lot of the time. The song is kind of ordinary, but there are moments when she sounds absolutely glorious, on the quietest and most intense parts especially.

Jonathan Bradley: I know she’s the go-to singer for rap hooks, and this instrumental has a rather intriguing emptiness, but I really can’t get over her atonal delivery. Even if the tune were stronger than it is, the singing would be terribly distracting.

Al Shipley: Ne-Yo has a knack for writing songs for female vocalists that allow them to inhabit the lyric and make it their own, and I rarely wonder what he’d sound like singing those songs. But I’ve never been a fan of Michele’s retro vocal style, which is so stylized as to border on kewpie baby talk, and for once I’m wishing the writer had kept it for himself.

Martin Kavka: Ne-Yo’s songwriting skills are improving at an exponential pace. This would have been a worldwide smash for Dionne Warwick, and Michele and Ne-Yo’s partner Chuck Harmony do a great job of not making it sound too anachronistic. Best part: the way that Michele moans “girlfriend” as if having that status with someone were more important to her than breathing.

Jordan Sargent: If there’s a knock on Ne-Yo, it’s that sometimes he can come off as almost sickeningly mannered. “Epiphany,” sadly, falls into that trap. It builds a runway out of a unique beat and a slyly catchy chorus, but right when you want it to take off it just… doesn’t.

Michaelangelo Matos: I’m sure someone out there is already making a case for her as the New Face of Real Soul or something, and that’s fine, but what I like about this is how stagy it is, from filtered spoken beginning to the perfect clop of the congas (despite the presence of a kick and hi-hat, you never hear drums here, just percussion) to piano chords that make me wonder what Kiki & Herb might do with it. The chorus is as chick-flick as “Irreplaceable”, but more restrained. At least until the bridge, where she gets to emote — and looses the tautness that is the track’s greatest strength.

Alex Ostroff: Lazy and languid, the piano takes its time, strutting throughout the piece. Chrisette announces at the beginning “…and then it comes to me, like an epiphany,” and her vocals unfold gradually over the course of the song, as she, and we, slowly realize what she has to do. Rarely melodramatic, but stately and assured, they fit the tone perfectly. Her pronunciation is sometimes strangely affected, a la Janelle Monae, but that’s usually a good thing in my books. Majestic.

Alex Macpherson: Chrisette Michele says it’s an epiphany, but it feels more like a slow, creeping realisation; as she outlines all the little things that she already knew, wistfulness creeps into her regret. You can hear her voice waver – “just about” over someone is nowhere near being over them – and you feel it’s touch and go whether she’ll actually walk away. Heartbreaking.

Ian Mathers: Nicely deployed woodblock and electric piano aside, the real appeal of “Epiphany” is the slow-dawning joy in Chrisette’s voice as she, in Dan Savage’s phrase, Dumps The Motherfucker Already. It’s more apparent when you watch the video, but this is no woe-is-me, now-I’m-single lament – the chorus is more mocking/savage than sad, and you get the definite impression that it really is his loss, not hers.

Additional Scores

Hillary Brown: [6]
Iain Mew: [8]
David Raposa: [7]

3 Responses to “Chrisette Michele – Epiphany”

  1. i really don’t understand how anyone could find this to be anything more than merely pleasant

  2. I feel stupid for not realizing (or looking up) that Ne-Yo wrote it–of course Ne-Yo wrote it, Jesus H.

  3. For me, it leaps above merely pleasant because I really love her singing, in places.