Picks and Pans Review: Jennifer Hudson

updated 10/06/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jennifer Hudson

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R&B
Two years and one Oscar after she told you she wasn't going, Jennifer Hudson: is finally releasing her much-anticipated debut. And it is a disc befitting the Dreamgirls diva, with lots of big ballads, powerhouse vocals and the best producers money can buy. Timbaland works his magic on the fiercely funky "Pocketbook"—featuring Ludacris, it's the heaviest of a few hip-hop flirtations—while Robin Thicke brings out Hudson's vulnerable side on the tender surrender "Giving Myself." But what the hell is computerized crooner T-Pain doing with this flesh-and-blood belter on "What's Wrong (Go Away)"? Far better is "I'm His Only Woman," an American Idol showdown with Fantasia on which both ladies let loose their inner Effies.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Spotlight," the soulful, Whitney-esque single

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