James Fortune & FIYA - The Transformation (2009)

James Fortune & FIYA
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I'm still trying to figure out what the big fuss is about James Fortune and his vocal ensemble, FIYA. Since his independent debut You Survived, he has been fortunate in landing the right power ballads on gospel radio beginning with the album's title cut. On his latest project, The Transformation, FIYA excels moderately in their choral duties. The group is hindered by what amounts to loads of unison chorale whispers. The album slopes into sophisticated pop and a disheartening lack of strong, memorable material. It's only when "I Trust You" (for some, an ode to "You Survived"); the cool, traditional-spiced "I Wouldn't Know You;" and the breezy, upbeat Kirk Franklin-esque "Follow You" enters the picture does the album steer in a positive musical direction. But, ambitious boulders like "Great Is the King," "I'm Good" and the mood-changing "I Owe All" bar total album enjoyment.

I'm still trying to figure out what the big fuss is about James Fortune and his vocal ensemble, FIYA. Since his independent debut You Survived, he has been fortunate in landing the right power ballads on gospel radio beginning with the album's title cut. On his latest project, The Transformation, FIYA excels moderately in their choral duties. The group is hindered by what amounts to loads of unison chorale whispers. The album slopes into sophisticated pop and a disheartening lack of strong, memorable material. It's only when "I Trust You" (for some, an ode to "You Survived"); the cool, traditional-spiced "I Wouldn't Know You;" and the breezy, upbeat Kirk Franklin-esque "Follow You" enters the picture does the album steer in a positive musical direction. But, ambitious boulders like "Great Is the King," "I'm Good" and the mood-changing "I Owe All" bar total album enjoyment. Besides all the guest vocalists (Nakkita Clegg, Shawn McLemore, Josiah Martin, Nikki Ross), an original hip-hop holiday song ("Holy Night"), and Fortune's overwrought narrations, much of The Transformation feels like a Kirk Franklin/Myron Butler worship-pop hybrid, but without the superb song craft and sensible musical direction. The radio-ready singles are quite easy to fall in love with. The album is another story. Notable songs: "I Trust You," "Follow You" and "I Wouldn't Know You."

Vocals: 2.5 stars
Lyrics: 2 stars
Music: 1.5 stars
Production: 2 stars
SoulTracks Call: Not recommended

By J. Matthew Cobb

 
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