Syleena Johnson – Chapter 1 (review)

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* Soul to soul: Johnson, the daughter of singer-guitarist Syl Johnson, evokes truth tellers such as Betty Wright, Candi Staton, Millie Jackson and Barbara Mason.

* The lowdown: Johnson carries the torch for everywoman soul on her debut album. With her rich alto, she empathetically conveys the emotional logic that makes people stay in abusive relationships (“Hit on Me”), put up with cheating (the R. Kelly-produced “I Am Your Woman”) and remain tied to noncommittal lovers (“Baby I’m So Confused”). The key to Johnson’s delivery is that she never comes off as a victim, but rather a willful romantic torn between bad love and her own survival. Her new album — with tracks done by producers who worked with recent soul sensation Jill Scott — is due out this summer.

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