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Album Review

Fantasia, 'Back to Me'

August 23, 2010

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It would be too bad if tabloid headlines surrounding Fantasia’s alleged sex tape and her overdose take attention away from the strength of this comeback record. Hard-core cynics may imply a correlation between the timing of the news and this release, but that still can’t diminish what Fantasia has done here. She has dropped the synthetic trappings that often felt so false on her two previous discs. Fantasia has matured (Broadway experience can do that). All that fingernails-on-the-chalkboard screeching is gone and replaced by smoother, more intuitive vocals. The disc opens with the insistent declaration of self, “I’m Doin’ Me,’’ but it is more about love in all its incarnations: passionate, regretful, angry, and tender. Fantasia sings with urgency on the terrific “Collard Greens & Cornbread,’’ and does indeed sound “out of my mind with L-O-V-E.’’ (Always a great place to be if it lasts.) She deftly mixes modern R&B with songs that echo classic soul (“The Thrill Is Gone’’). Throughout “Back to Me,’’ Fantasia appears to be an artist reborn — or maybe just in love. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “Collard Greens & Cornbread’’