Melinda Doolittle - You're The Reason

Melinda Doolittle
Melinda Doolittle You're The Reason.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Melinda Doolittle’s third place finish in a popular showcase like American Idol might not have guaranteed her success in another era. For instance, it’s hard to imagine how a vocalist with a classic mature soulful sound would not have been able to parlay that into a higher level of commercial success in 1987, when Doolittle would have been a contemporary with Anita Baker, Regina Belle, Miki Howard and Patti LaBelle.

Melinda Doolittle’s third place finish in a popular showcase like American Idol might not have guaranteed her success in another era. For instance, it’s hard to imagine how a vocalist with a classic mature soulful sound would not have been able to parlay that into a higher level of commercial success in 1987, when Doolittle would have been a contemporary with Anita Baker, Regina Belle, Miki Howard and Patti LaBelle.

Musical tastes had changed greatly by the time Doolittle made her Idol run in 2007.They have changed even more by 2013, as Doolittle releases her second album, You’re The Reason. Doolittle is probably a skillful enough vocalist to adjust to the modern production techniques. However, she doesn’t want to, and that’s fine. She’s comfortable singing the classic soul and jazz that comprised the output of her 2009 debut Coming Back to You or the adult oriented R&B heard on You’re the Reason.

Her nod toward the modern hip-hop R&B world is to collaborate with a rapper on the alternate version of the joyously funky title track. I don’t know what artists think they gain by including rap in these alternate versions. Is some 17-year old going to buy You’re The Reason because the album includes an alternate version of the title track? Maybe, but I doubt it. The all Melinda version is actually a pretty good up-tempo love song that showcases Doolittle’s virtues, such as her emotive voice and the control that allows her to shift tempos.

Doolittle is also on the top of her game on a track that explores the opposite side of love – the pop/rock influenced “Without You.” This track finds Doolittle telling a former lover that she survived the hurt and pain of his departure and emerged better for the experience. That track has the self-affirming theme of many of the tunes on this seven-track album. The opening number, “Never Giving Up,” tells the story of a woman and artist who vows to continue her struggle for professional and personal fulfillment regardless of disappointment. Like “Without You,” this cut sports that pop feel and the power that Doolittle’s vocal gives the lyrics gives the tune an autobiographical feel.

That fact is that all of the tracks on You’re The Reason seem to tell a story about Doolittle’s joys, struggles and, in the case of the power ballad “Give,” her belief that the obligation to do good is not based on how you feel nor how you have been treated in the past.

You’re The Reason is a revealing album right from the start until the cover of “Home” that concludes the record. The project shows that Doolittle is an artist who faced doubts but who emerged with her vision and spirit intact, and who is determined to sing the type of music that she loves - whether singing originals or covers. Her passion for the decision she made shows through on the disc and makes this a welcome, successful return of an Idol favorite. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Featured Album - Conya Doss - CLEAR
Album of the Month - Cecile McLorin Salvant - The Window
Featured Album - Raul Midón - If You Really Want
Featured Album - Anthony David - Hello Like Before

Leave a comment!