Chapter 6: Couples Therapy

by: Syleena Johnson

After a couple albums with Shanachie, including a set of reggae duets with Musiq, Syleena Johnson moves to the eOne-affiliated Blakbyrd for her eighth studio album. Chapter 6: Couples Therapy doesn't have the most appealing title, but it reflects what Johnson has been through and covers a broader spectrum of emotions than indicated. At the dark end -- an area she has never shied away from exploring -- she is in particularly vivid form on "Perfectly Worthless," holding her head high in the wake of mistreatment. Opposite to that, there's "My Love," a blissful, traditionally styled ballad in which she uses her upper register to maximum effect. There are many moods between those two highlights, and they're all revealed with the same high level of conviction heard in Johnson's previous output. All but one of the songs were made with either Pierre Medor (Mary J. Blige, Monica) or the team of Kajun (Avant, Ronald Isley) and Andre Henry (Isley, Avery Sunshine). These songwriters and producers provide sufficient support for Johnson, who had a hand in the creation of each song. Also credit Johnson for going against the grain by not sharing the vocal booth with any rappers. Instead, the unmistakable voices of Leela James and Dave Hollister are each present on one cut. This is yet another pleasing, down-to-earth addition to one of the steadiest R&B discographies of the 2000s and 2010s. ~ Andy Kellman

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