Picks and Pans Review: Chapter 1
Syleena Johnson (Jive)
Judging by her bluesy, gospel-infused voice and her world-weary way with a lyric, Syleena Johnson is a very old 24. In fact, as the thematic title of her debut album suggests, the soulful singer seems to have experienced enough love, pain and forgiveness to fill an entire week's worth of Oprah episodes. The Chicago-area native probably owes some of her raw, traditional sound to her father, veteran bluesman Syl Johnson. But you can also hear shades of Chaka Khan, Randy Crawford and Tina Turner setting Johnson apart from all of today's overproduced, ultra-glossy Destiny's Child wannabes.
Opening strongly with the gritty ballad "I Am Your Woman" (by R. Kelly), Johnson also shines on the wrenching slow jams "Baby I'm So Confused" and "Hit On Me." But the highlight is her jazzy turn on "He's Gonna Do You In," featuring blues guitarist Buddy Guy.
Bottom Line: A voice that speaks volumes