On her underappreciated debut, 2002's A Love Story, Vivian Green took listeners on an emotional roller coaster through the ups and downs of romance. Buckle up, folks, because the R&B chanteuse is back with more of love's twists and turns on this satisfying sophomore outing. Green, who possesses a fine set of pipes and is a former backup vocalist for Jill Scott, is at her best when she gets fired up on songs like the funky face-off "Mad" and the gospel-inflected single "Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)," on which she packs up her stuff, including her "Pond's facial cloths," and bolts from a bad relationship. Never playing the victim, Green brings a sense of empowerment to cuts such as the ballad "Under My Skin," where she stands up to a mentally abusive lover, and the saucy "I Like It (But I Don't Need It)." Vivian, with its more straightforward contemporary soul, lacks the jazzy shadings of the superior Love Story, and the last third of the disc suffers from a few forgettable tracks (especially an out-tro featuring well-wishes from her family, friends and record label). By then, however, Green and her everywoman appeal have already left a winning impression.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Gotta Go Gotta Leave"