First Listen: Old Soul Jazmine Sullivan Returns With “Forever Don’t Last”

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    Even before Philly soul-singer Jazmine Sullivan birthed the stark yet oily soul of “I’m In Love With Another Man,” and really before she’d even kissed her 21st birthday, she’d already carried industry and tastemaker whispers of being the next Aretha, the next Mavis, the nextGladys—an old school soul singer who could sing our pain with bare-naked truth. Unfortunately, Sullivan’s output has been more uneven than her talent, as she tried to straddle the fence between the young, hip woman of the times that she is (and her label wants her to be), andthe throwback voice of pews, fields, and streets with which she’s been gifted, one that flourishes on traditional soul fare. Her songwriting often reflects this divide and tension in the same song, sometimes for the good, as with “Lions, Tigers, and Bears” and “Need U Bad.”

    The first two single releases from Sullivan’s forthcoming album, Reality Show,  “Dumb” and “Forever Don’t Last,” somewhat continue the trend. The aggressive “Dumb (feat. Meek Mills)” was aimed squarely at a youth audience, with its choppy melody line, chanting hooks, marching backbeats, and a percussion heavy hip hop track. In stark contrast, her latest, “Forever Don’t Last,” is musically full, melodically sweeping, and lyrically sharp, without an ounce of pretense. Fearless and still somehow restrained, Sullivan dares to sing in the basement of her tenor and the crying highs of her alto - she almost duets with herself. The George Benson inspired break with scatting and guitar accompaniment serves as a wink and nod to her older fans. It’s that bridge that also reminds us that while Sullivan is a few years from 30, her more timeless music has the capacity to reach those far over that industry line between grown folks music and the kids’ club and car material. On “Forever Don’t Last,” Sullivan makes us uncomfortable voyeurs to what could be a searing breakup or an aching blues woman singing an epiphany that only just struck her in the wee small hours. 
    Here, as with “I’m In Love With Another Man,” Sullivan makes those early whispers feel like prophecy.
    By L. Michael Gipson
    Jazmine Sullivan - "Forever Don't Last"