Album Review: “The MF Life” – Melanie Fiona

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MELANIE FIONA – THE MF LIFE

SRC Records/Universal Republic

Release Date: March 20, 2012

Canadian R&B songstress Melanie Fiona first made major noise at urban radio with 2009’s “It Kills Me” from her debut album, The Bridge; it topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart for nine consecutive weeks and earned her the first Grammy nomination of her career.  Fast forward to 2012, and her sophomore album The MF Life finally arrives after a bevy of delays.  However, despite the setbacks, Melanie never really disappeared from the scene.  Throughout the nearly three years between her first and second albums, she worked with a number of R&B and hip-hop’s biggest heavy hitters and newcomers—including John Legend, Wale, J. Cole, Common, The Roots and Cee-Lo, just to name a few.  She was also a consistent Grammy nominee (four, to be exact) due to her collaborations, winning two just last month for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Fool for You,” her collaboration with Cee-Lo.

Hot on the heels of her 2 Grammy wins, she immediately announced (on the day following the Grammys) that her album release date would be bumped up.  And on The MF Life, listeners will find a unique mix of the old school soul that made up the majority of her debut album, but also more modern urban sounds and a number of strong collaborations—both of which were absent from The Bridge.  The album-opener “This Time” featuring rapper J. Cole is a strong start that immediately catches the ear due to its awkwardly rousing production.  Vocally, Melanie never disappoints, as evidenced by the singles “4 AM” and “Gone and Never Coming Back” and she holds her own alongside her male guests throughout the album, who include Nas, B.o.B. and John Legend.  Overall, The MF Life offers a more diverse mix of sounds than The Bridge, while giving listeners a strong feel for Melanie’s artistic identity and outstanding vocal abilities.

Grade: B

Michael Hamilton

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