For R&B Divas: Atlanta star Syleena Johnson, 5 chapters of heartbreak filled R&B music apparently weren’t enough, hence it is no surprise that chapter 6 was eventually inevitable. Having previously covered the themes of labor pains, love, pain, forgiveness and even the bodily flesh, this time around Johnson decided to dedicate 14 songs to the inter-human relations of lovers, ergo “Couples Therapy”.

 

After additional collaborations with R&B King R. Kelly, who was previously announced as the executive producer, unfortunately didn’t come into fruition, the Chicago chanteuse saw herself forced to move on with out the soul genius. And that she did not unsuccessfully! In fact, it is the first time in ten years Syleena Johnson managed to place her album within the Billboard 200; and while the sales were only strong enough for rank 197, it is considerably better than what fellow R&B Divas: Los Angeles star Lil’ Mo or Queen of the congo Faith Evans did, who both didn’t make the charts. Even though we do believe that the album certainly deserved a top 40 entry, the lack of R. Kelly’s contributions is definitely felt; and Johnson has certainly proven on previous records that she can deliver a solidly crafted projected without him – chapters 4 and 5 served just that extra “ooomph – but what is it that we are missing this go around?

 

Interview: Syleena Johnson talks ‘Couples Therapy’ movie & R&B Divas cancellation rumours

 

Have you seen the visual for leading single ‘Perfectly Worthless’ yet?

 

 

 

 

So what is it, that we are missing! Johnson has a magnificently stunning voice, which she ever so beautifully displays on her first single “Perfectly Worthless”: a phenomenally melodramatic soul ballad, which huge amount of genuine pathos is rarely matched by other current songs. In general Johnson’s voice is emotionally beyond stellar. Her notes are drenched in agony and weltschmerz; actually if you listen closely to that rasp you might think you catch the painful sigh, that only a ruthless whiplash could evoke. To us her voice fascinatingly reeks of chains, of social injustice and of true pain. And that in the most respectful and positive way one could mean it. You just FEEL her.

 

Them civil rights movement vocals are best served in its lane and while we commend Johnson for trying new things with this project like “Boom” or “Silence”, synthetic, mechanical sounds are not the most complimentary to her vocal delivery. Also the album’s theme is not as strong as her previous records, though the theme may be in-line with the Marriage Bootcamp: Reality Stars’ personal life. Mostly carried through little intros and interludes “Labor Pains” or “Underrated” invited you into the atmosphere of the birth of a baby or a boxing championship respectively, whereas “Couples Therapy” really just lets one relationshippy song swoop in after the other… Where is the drama she gave Nicci Gilbert, when told her there was a “special place in hell for a bitch” like her? Where is the arguing between the couples? Where is the nasty divorce or the sensual reunion? I think Robert would have given her those stories but oh well…

 

team curtains syleena johnson

 

All in all the record can be summarized into a nice collection of smokey, grown and sexy vocals over clean modern soul beats, lyrics dealing with love and affection for one another. Pleasant guest appearances by virtuous crooners like Dave Hollister and Leela James, and even boy group pretty boy Willie Taylor of Day26, makes a nice little cameo. And the latter duet actually does have everything an R. Kelly song needs: Slightly corny but also genius innuendo, a shoutout to R&B bible 12 Play, and the signature “oooh” ad libs, sung in falsetto.

 


 

 

This record can be placed somewhere between Mary J. Blige and Oleta Adams. 3/5

 

 

 

 

What’s your favourite song of Chapter 6: Couple’s Therapy?

 

 

 

Written by Malcolm Music