Tina Campbell - It’s Personal (2015)

Tina Campbell
tina_campbell_-_its_personal.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

"I've found out about more and I don't want to hold onto somebody who I cannot trust...I have been trying, since the very beginning, and you gon' keep adding people? You gon' keep adding people? I thought we had a good life just like everybody else watching! I thought we was the ideal relationship just like everybody else, and I got to find out in front of the whole Goddang world that all of my life was a lie? And you want me to quote scriptures right now? I've never kissed another man, I never went out with another man, I never cheated in my head.....I'm angry!"

"I've found out about more and I don't want to hold onto somebody who I cannot trust...I have been trying, since the very beginning, and you gon' keep adding people? You gon' keep adding people? I thought we had a good life just like everybody else watching! I thought we was the ideal relationship just like everybody else, and I got to find out in front of the whole Goddang world that all of my life was a lie? And you want me to quote scriptures right now? I've never kissed another man, I never went out with another man, I never cheated in my head.....I'm angry!"

It was one of the most explosive exchanges in the history of reality television: In the midst of Season 3 of their popular reality show, Erica and Tina Campbell, AKA Grammy-winning Gospel duo, Mary Mary, discuss the infidelity that rocked the younger sister's world and marriage. Anyone who saw the episode heard the anguish in her words and felt the pain that she was going through as a believer and a woman. The levels of transparency shocked their fans and foes alike, from Teddy's admission of guilt and confessions of multiple partners to Tina's felonious impulses ("I was spazzing out, my thoughts were criminal") and their renewal of their wedding vows. After sharing so much of their healing process and reconcilation with the world at large, fans anticipated that Tina's first ever solo CD, It's Personal, would further explore the process as a sort of musical ministry for the struggling and sanctified (or anyone in-between). 

Unfortunately, however, that isn't the case.....in fact, the title seems to be a misnomer because most of the songs, well-crafted and engaging as they are, come across as anything but. The details of the trials and tribulations that left Tina locked in her bedroom, vandalizing Teddy's ride and contemplating a move to a divorce court have been traded for songs of praise and purpose that feel generic in comparison. 

Does this mean that the CD is coaster-worthy totally unlistenable? Of course not----we are, after all, talking about one-half of the renowned team of Mary Mary here, and the woman isn't a slouch vocally or lyrically. Out of the 12 tracks, the three collaborationg with her brother-in-law, Warren Campbell, are the best, from the elegant yet vulnerable testimonial "Holy Spirit" to the tropical feel and sway of "Woh Oh Oh" (which includes the Campbell children helping Mommy delightfully spread joy in the chorus). "Speak The Word," a duet with her husband Teddy, is a midtempo throwback to traditional tambourine-bouncing and organ/horn-driven hymns; and then there's "Love Love Love," an upbeat and inspirational ditty featuring the legendary Stevie Wonder that gushes with the passion of a newly-discovered gratitude for God (or maybe in her case, renewed): "I thought it was too good to be true, it is, better than anything I've known," Tina emotes over Stevie's trademark harmonica flourish, "when heaven opens and sends you its kisses so pure, and you're sure, that it's love, love, love...."

For fans of the series or waaaay-back-in-the-day Mary Mary fans, there's something that will move you and satisfy: their mother, Thomasina "Honey" Atkins, demonstrates from where the singing sisters got their goods on the worshipful mid-tempo "I'm Everything With Ya," while "Life" is as close to urbanized R&B as the collection gets. There's no denying the sincerity of "Destiny," "The Prayer/Aaron's Worship" or "I Call You Jesus," but the lack of soul-scraping songs about her decision to forgive Teddy's adultery and fall back in love with him, or even the complicated process thereof, either means that Tina was too wiped out to share anything else or lacked the guidance necessary in the studio (again, without Warryn) to properly convey it all.  

Season four of the reality show is now in full swing with new management and a shift of personal and professional priorities. As of this writing, Mary Mary the duo is on hiatus as Erica continues building on her solo career and Tina recommits to her marriage, family and her own projects. She fought to be heard as a solo artist, and when Sony Music wouldn't record her on anything other than for a new duo CD, the younger Campbell sister went the independent route (and it shows). On one hand, it's good that she's now returning to the swing of things and has plenty to share as a follower of Christ. But on the other, those wanting more of her heart will instead, run into a polished shield that highlights the results of her arduous journey, but no roadmap of how Tina Campbell actually got there. Cautiously Recommended.

By Melody Charles 

 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

Leave a comment!