One of the best vocalists and singer/songwriters of all-time, Syleena Johnson, is more than just a woman. A co-host of TV One daily series, Sister Circle, with reality TV star Quad Webb-Lunceford, TV and radio host Rashan Ali and singer Trina Braxton. As well as a Mom, entrepreneur in self-care, health and fitness. Johnson is for the empowerment of all women. A major theme on her nearly couple of months ago released 10th solo album, Woman.
Whether it’s very empowering and provocative lead single and title track, Woman, with such blunt lyrics as, “You gotta think like a woman but act harder than a man. Show love like a woman but take advantage like a man. Sacrifice like a woman but tell lies like a man, if you want to make America great again.” Or even the opening lyrics on the intro of, “Strong, determined, focused, resilient, intelligent, capable, unshakable.” Johnson lets it be known that those are just a few of the ways not only here as a woman, but all women can be.
The strong determination in Johnson’s lyrics and signature sultry voice and raspy tone that’s very reminiscent of many a classic R&B/Soul artists of yesteryear throughout most of the album, showing so as well. With the very chant heavy and very empowering opening track, Long Time Ago, or even the very chant heavy and guitar-driven, Mountains, letting you know what a great and amazing album you’re in for. The latter really truly showing what soaring great to the mountaintop-like vocals the singer has, as she sings about how much a lover allows and let’s her be her own self that let’s her go to the mountaintops for whatever she does, whether love or otherwise and how much she appreciates him for letting her do so. Fellow Chicago native and Grammy Award-winning production team, Toxic Productions, producing the lead single and a majority of the album. Really bringing out the best in Johnson, for what may arguably be her best album to date. The album is one of the rare albums where it seems to get better with each new song. The very strings heavy, Come Inside My House, a very sensually driven song about inviting a lover into her house to be loved. With those first three songs being one of the best first three tracks sequence you will ever hear from an album.
Getting towards the midway point of the album, records like the single, Freelance Lover, that playfully mocks players and the very empowering new anthem for fed-up women everywhere, I Deserve More. Shows how versatile and not only empowering to women the album is, but also fun, soft and sexual, as well as peaceful, hopeful and loving. Just like the things all women are. This ever so evident on the very blissful lovely and lovingly hopeful duet, Home, with Q Parker from 112, about a couple so blissfully in love that loves really singing about it. Just like they’re shouting it to the world cause they want everyone to know what great chemistry they have and love flaunting it.
Another underlying theme that really makes the album so great and the first truly classic and timeless not only masterpiece R&B/Soul album, but album of the year period across all of music in 2020 and the first year of a new decade. Is how you can hear the sense of urgency that permeates throughout Woman in her powerful vocals and lyrics. That really helps emphasize and make you feel every emotion that spills from her lips. Whether the restrained tenderness on the very blissfully gorgeous previously mentioned, Home, or the very smooth guitar strings backdrop on the very soft, peacefully hopefully sensually tender, Believer. Really letting her lyrics about her belief in love, God, and how it helps you find your one true love such a believer in such love. Which you can really hear as Johnson so convincingly sings the chorus of, “You could say, must gonna dream. And clearly, the sky is blue. I’m convinced this brings to. Boy, you make me a believer. Kissing on me. Touching on me. Can’t help but fall to my knees. Oh Lord, have mercy on me. ‘Cause you make me a believer.”
Closing out the album with the very stellar and powerful vocal performances of the Raheem DeVaughn featured Frontline and the title track. Frontline, really letting everything from Johnson and DeVaughn’s very passionate vocals and lyrics, all out to truly fight in the name of love for a partner. The perfect way to close such a powerful and empowering album, which shows all women the many ways they’re more than just what the industry and society in general puts limits on them to be. That said this is still an album that not only all women, but even men can enjoy as well and should be nominated for a Grammy. But most likely cause of the way many a woman and an album like this is viewed by a majority of the industry, as well as the Recording Academy, likely wouldn’t be. That said this is still a very timeless masterpiece and classic album, I expect to see on many year-end best albums lists when we reach the end of the year in December. Not just top R&B/Soul albums, but many top albums of the year lists across all of music.