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It's Me Again

(Atlantic; US: 22 Mar 2005; UK: 21 Mar 2005)

Spring is here. Robins are on the wing. And after almost three year’s of silence the Southern Hummingbird has released her sophomore disc. Like the robin’s chirp, Tweet’s sweet voice is a welcome sound.


It’s been almost three year’s since Tweet’s debut disc Southern Hummingbird made a splash on the R&B charts with its huge hit single that celebrated sexual self-fulfillment, “Oops (Oh my)!” The controversy generated by the song, and Tweet’s back story as a woman saved from suicide by a last minute call from Missy Elliot, made Tweet famous for a brief period. The only question was, would Tweet be a one-hit wonder or would she develop and grow into the next Southern soul diva? The more time passed without a peep, the more likely it seemed that Tweet’s success would be short-lived.


It’s Me Again announces that Tweet is back, and the good news is the album contains a number of superb performances. Not every song is a winner, but there are enough fine ones to dismiss the notion that Tweet is a has been. The disc is a mostly quiet affair with Tweet singing as if she’s having an intimate conversation with a friend, lover, ex-lover, family member, or even (on the best song) a cab driver. On “Cab Ride” Tweet sweetly tells the taxi driver taking her to her boyfriend’s house to drive slow and safe while a sample of the theme song to the old television show Taxi loops in the background. There’s something light-heartedly funny (presumably intentionally so) imagining Tweet singing the lyrics to Latke or Louis or any of the old “Taxi” crew.


Tweet employs several different producers (including Missy Elliot) and the production quality varies from song to song. Several tracks purposely contain the staticky sounds made when playing LPs back in the day, to show the old school roots of the Southern Hummingbird’s sound. In fact the first single, “Turn Da Lights Off” begins with a scratched sample of the old Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit, “If This World Were Mine” and features a chorus that begins “We better put the needle back on the record.” In many ways the disc seems made for headphones as several of the sonic tricks employed, such as shaking maracas that go from one ear to the next to back again, are best appreciated with a headset on. However, other production elements, such as beginning the tune “Iceberg” about a lover who has grown cold, with Mariachi horns to reveal how hot the relationship once was, works well on a big system or an iPod.


Other cool songs include “Sports, Sex & Food,” where Tweet offers advice to single women (“Go to the gym / you don’t have to be slim / Just strut your stuff / and you’ll attract men”), “Small Change”, in which the Southern Hummingbird tells off a former lover who once hurt her and now wants to come back (“You must be sort of deranged /your worth is less than small change”) and the hot, dance tune “We Don’t Need No Water”, (“Can I ask you all a question? / Is it getting all hot up in here? /Can I make a suggestion? / Strip down to your underwear”). As different as they songs are, they all feature Tweet’s ability to clearly articulate each word and emote her feelings while singing.


While It’s Me Again does not contain any real clunkers, some of the tracks in the middle seem to run together without a particular identity. And the one sappy song (“Two of Us”) in which Tweet duets with her daughter Tashawna, would be of interest only to her fans. The disc also contains a hidden bonus track, the theme song to the remake of the television cop show Kojak that stars Ving Rhames, “When I Need a Man”. Judging from the first episode, Tweet’s gritty theme tune is the best thing about it.

Rating:

Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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