If there is any justice in this world, Chanté Moore’s fourth and latest disc, Exposed, ought to be a hit, because it’s one of the few releases to get the formula for contemporary female R&B right. Its biggest advantage is Moore herself, who doesn’t have to rely on studio tricks to make her voice passable, as she’s got plenty of pipes. And, unlike Mariah et al, she doesn’t try to prove her vocal ability in every song, never once over-singing. Instead, she’s a master of restraint, punctuation, and interpretation.
Exposed also boasts a fairly solid set of songs. Even the ballads, which are frequently trite and formulaic on modern R&B albums, are strong. Part of this is because Moore is a good enough singer to keep the songs interesting. Part of it is due to the strong rhythms punctuating the slow numbers, making them quite sexy. Two of them in particular—“I’m Keepin’ You” and “Bitter”—are great because they contain engaging, unusual lyrics.
It’s rare to hear a song that deals honestly with the topic of infidelity as it’s much easier, in song as in life, to condemn the perpetrator than to explore the complex reasons behind the indiscretion. It’s a brave move on Moore’s part to sing, as she does on “I’m Keepin’ You”, from the perspective of a woman whose husband has cheated—a woman who is not angry or despairing, but regretful, forgiving, and hopeful. The woman in the song is not foolish, nor does she blame herself for the man’s affair. She is hopeful but realistic about the chance of her relationship surviving the betrayal: “There’s so much between us / and I’ve been compromised—you have my forgiveness / One night of love won’t make it right / But let’s start somewhere.”
On “Bitter”, Moore turns two female R&B conventions on their heads by combining biting, male-bashing lyrics with the music of a sappy love song. The song starts off as a typical ballad with a spoken intro including thoughts like, “Sometimes when you’ve had your heart broken / and there’s pain / you’ve gotta let it out exactly how you feel.” Then Moore sweetly, with the slightest twinge of hurt in her voice, sings to her ex-lover lines like, “You make me sick… nigga / I hate your dog… nigga”. The results are nothing short of hilarious.
Not all the moments on Exposed are as bright or as unique as these, but there’s nothing on the disc that could be classified as filler, either. Chanté Moore is leagues ahead of most of her competition.
// Notes from the Road
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