Jennifer Holliday – Feel My Soul
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Jennifer Holliday's Feel My Soul marked her debut for the pop market after wowing Broadway with her performances in You Arm's Too Short to Box With God and Dreamgirls. And while the album certainly showcases her strong vocals, it's pretty typical of the mainstream urban contemporary sound of the era. "Just Let Me Wait" and "This Game of Love (I'm Never Coming Down)" give Holliday an opportunity to really rip into their upbeat arrangements. But the hit single "I Am Love" is the real standout. Beginning as a fluttering, austere piano ballad, the song abruptly shifts into high gear, where Holliday's high note trills and enormous chorus vocalizing recall her mind-blowing performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. Producer Maurice White doesn't take too many risks with Feel My Soul -- he wisely keeps the focus on his star's voice. But when he incorporates some Earth, Wind & Fire-style robotic voice antics on "Shine a Light," Holliday starts to recall vintage Tina Turner, suggesting that she would have been able to handle some more adventurous material. This doesn't mean Feel My Soul is a bad album -- indeed, the touches of gospel and straightforward adult contemporary that fill out its margins are very well done, and its high points are truly memorable. But since Holliday was never able to fully transfer her Broadway fame into an album-oriented pop career, the album's brief stylistic risks (her raw, emotional, barely-in-check vocal on "Change Is Gonna Come," for example) suggest what might have been.