Fantasia | Side Effects of You (19 Recordings/RCA)

fantasia 75This is definitely an album about love, but not about being in love.

 

After hearing Fantasia’s lead single “Lose to Win,” I knew I wanted to hear what the rest of her music would sound like for her fourth studio album Side Effects of You. “Have you ever needed someone so bad, but he ain’t willing to make it last/ Sometimes you got to lose to win again/If it makes you cry, (cry, cry) ’cause all you do is fight, can’t get no sleep at night/Sometimes you got to lose to win again.”

The album begins with “Supernatural Love,” in which Fantasia describes how the person she loves makes her defy all the rules. Admittedly, I’m used to Fantasia taking us to church with her vocals—oversinging—by way of her background growing up in church with gospel music, but she certainly contains herself on the reggae-inspired “Ain’t All Bad” and the 808 of “If I Was a Bird.”

The a capella harmonies of Fantasia, Kelly Rowland, and Missy Elliott on the “Girl Interlude” made me remember the ’90s girl groups who could give great vocals at the drop of a time. As “Without Me” played, and Rowland and Elliott blessed the track with their voices along the hypnotizing beat, I couldn’t help but sing along: “And as hard as you try to hide reality while we know the truth so act brand new if you want to; where would you be without me?”

Leave it to these three, especially Elliott, to add that extra spice to make your “I made you” song the anthem for the summer when you have to remind the ex that s/he would be no near the talk of the town if s/he hadn’t, in fact, been your ex. It’s just a great feel-good song to get you moving to the beat.

A part of me wanted this to be a Free Yourself Part 2, considering the past few years of Fantasia’s private life has been subject to so much scrutiny, from her relationship to a married man and a baby by him. The title track seems to be Fantasia’s way of reflecting on the relationship and how ridding herself of him wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3. It was an emotional and physical struggle, but she made it through.

Cue the twist and the swim, because “Get It Right” transports you to the ’60s. Call and response, snare drums, and bass are all part of the funk that makes this tune a definite party starter, and followed by the horn-featured “So Much to Prove.” “Change Your Mind” instantly reminds me of Beyonce’s “Hip Hop Star”: The beats are similar and each gets even the most nonchalant person moving—it’s an irresistible track. However, I don’t like the idea that I’m going to convince you to notice me—either you will or you won’t—but that’s just me.

Side Effects of You is definitely an album about love, but not about being in love. It’s about losing a love, detoxing from the love, renewing your confidence, and reflecting on and reentering the love game. Fantasia controls her voice more on this album and ensures that the lyrics are not lost in adlibs. She even tries her chops at rhyming on “Lighthouse.” “End of Me” opens up Fantasia’s heart as she tells the story of reneging, and “In Deep” is where she follows her passion and decides to take a chance on love again.

Largely produced by Harmony Samuels, Side Effects of You is a bit funky with rocking soul. Fantasia deems her new sound “rock soul,” and I agree. C | Ashley White

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