Two things are certain when you listen to Angela Johnson's new album It's Personal: (1) Angela is proud of not being part of the mediocrity found on the radio and (2) she wishes the radio played more substantive material. These themes speak blatantly loud and clear in the songs "Indie in Me" and "On the Radio," yet are the undercurrent themes of some of the albums other songs. Following her 2008 release, A Woman's Touch--a remarkable disc that showcased Angela's finesse as producer much like Quincy Jones who was a master at bringing talented singers and stellar material together--Johnson is back with a solo project that steps away from the polish and guest stars found on A Woman's Touch, yet offers a more honest share of how she feels about her life as a music maker.
It's Personal is Angela Johnson up close and personal. She shows off those chops and
demonstrates some vulnerability in songs like "Hurts Like Hell," with
its funky intro and Brand New Heavies-ish undercurrent.
A vocally driven song, Angela reminds us how on point her vocals are. I
liked the cut "Be Myself" and its message of being yourself and feeling
comfortable around your loved one. Angela keeps the spirited vocalizing
high with this head-bobbing groove. The song "Better" threw me for a
loop when I heard it because it is almost a carbon copy of her 2005
single "Whatever It Takes" from her CD Got to Let It Go. Hot damn if the two songs aren't practically identical. Though this is a weird discovery, the song "All in Me" featuring Darien
makes up for it if you are feeling a bit disappointed with the
originality factor of "Whatever It Takes." Johnson and Darien bring
such fire to this song that I consider it goose bump-worthy. I
attribute my goose bumps to one part of the song where a high note is
hit that is so achingly sweet that you get a chill. This song is one of the high points of the album. The
aural chemistry between the two is definitely at play.
While the tune "Get Myself Together" is standard Adult Contemporary
fare, I fell in love with the sugary sweet ode to her daughter in the
ballad "For You" and the title track "It's Personal," which is an
instrumental. While Johnson's vocals are definitely Bounce-Worthy, her skills as an instrumentalist are superior. She hones
them all in for the album's last cut, "Days," where she ends it like she
does best, with harmonies that are always pretty and melodically
perfect with an instrumental blend that works almost every time. While
you won't find Julie Dexter, Rahsaan Patterson, Lisale or Eric Roberson on
this CD like you did on her previous one, what you do find is a reason
to stick with Angela Johnson. For at the end of the day, with her, you
will definitely find more hits than misses.