Free

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
LaShell Griffin may be the winner of Oprah's Pop Star Challenge, but her debut album, Free, shows that she's actually a gospel star waiting to happen. As the winner of Oprah's competition, Griffin definitely helped separate the contest from its inspiration, American Idol: after years of honing her skills in her church's gospel choir, she is a more seasoned and independent performer than the young singers that come out of American Idol's pop-star factory. Unfortunately, this isn't always reflected on Free. The album tries to blend contemporary R&B, middle-of-the-road pop, and gospel into something that will appeal to as many people as possible, and ends up ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
LaShell Griffin may be the winner of Oprah's Pop Star Challenge, but her debut album, Free, shows that she's actually a gospel star waiting to happen. As the winner of Oprah's competition, Griffin definitely helped separate the contest from its inspiration, American Idol: after years of honing her skills in her church's gospel choir, she is a more seasoned and independent performer than the young singers that come out of American Idol's pop-star factory. Unfortunately, this isn't always reflected on Free. The album tries to blend contemporary R&B, middle-of-the-road pop, and gospel into something that will appeal to as many people as possible, and ends up short-changing Griffin's voice in the process. Most of the album consists of pretty, vaguely inspirational songs such as "Learn to Breathe," "Rise," and "He's Coming Again"; even though Griffin gives them all the passion she's got, they still sound meandering and somewhat tuneless. Anyone who saw or heard Griffin's performances on the Pop Star Challenge or its accompanying CD knows that she's a powerful performer when she's given good material, but too often on Free, she's let down by bland songwriting. But, while the album is a disappointment, it's not an outright disaster. Free top-loads its track listing, getting off to a strong start with "You Are Mine" -- a song that shows off the intimacy and power of Griffin's voice -- and the single "Free," the album's best fusion of smooth gospel and urban sounds. Not surprisingly, Griffin is the most engaged on the songs that sound the most personal, as well as the ones that play to her gospel strengths. "I Can Only Imagine" is one of the album's liveliest tracks and one of the most musically interesting, with a syncopated beat, strings, and keyboards giving it a unique pop sound. "This Is Who I Am" takes a similarly streamlined approach, allowing Griffin the breathing room to really show off the musical and emotional range of her voice. This song, and a few others on Free, attempt to reflect Griffin's roots as a stay-at-home mother of five from Detroit. The urban pop of "Get Away" celebrates her few moments of private time; it's pretty charming, even if the hip-hop-styled shoutouts to Oprah, the Harpo staff, and other behind-the-scenes players feel more than a little forced. "Faith" is a duet with Griffin's husband Lee who also has an impressive voice that's both smooth and smoky that is closest to her gospel roots and suggests how much more consistent Free would have been if it hadn't been diluted with weak songwriting. All in all, Free is a nice album, but Griffin has the ability to deliver a lot more. Although the Pop Star Challenge gave her the opportunity to make an album in the first place, she seems hampered by the confines of the contest. Griffin clearly has the voice and the "faith" to make a show-stopping gospel album; maybe she'll get to make that album later in her career, but Free isn't it.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/25/2004
  • Label: Sony Mod - Afw Line
  • UPC: 827969249925
  • Catalog Number: 92499
  • Sales rank: 212,355

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 You Are Mine (3:06)
  2. 2 Free (3:59)
  3. 3 Learn to Breathe (4:35)
  4. 4 Get Away (4:14)
  5. 5 I Can Only Imagine (4:23)
  6. 6 Man from Galilee (4:43)
  7. 7 Rise (3:51)
  8. 8 He's Coming Again (4:28)
  9. 9 This Is Who I Am (4:06)
  10. 10 Faith - Lee Griffin (4:29)
  11. 11 Better Days (3:33)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
LaShell Griffin Primary Artist, Vocals, Background Vocals
Yvonne Gage Choir, Chorus
Brian Culbertson Keyboards
David Davidson Concert Master
Chris McHugh Drums
Jeffrey Morrow Choir, Chorus
Richard Patterson Bass
Tim Pierce Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Johnny Rutledge Choir, Chorus
Jackie Street Bass
Craig Bauer Acoustic Guitar, Hammond Organ
Lisa Cochran Background Vocals
Leroy Griffin Vocals
Stevie Robinson Choir, Chorus
Chaka Blackmon Drums
Larry King Background Vocals
Michael Ripoll Electric Guitar
Opal Staples Choir, Chorus
John Blasucci Piano, Hammond Organ
Greg Bieck Bass, Keyboards
Pete Kipley Guitar
Melody Joy Background Vocals
Michael Thompson Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Ulf Forsberg Strings
Paul Mabin Choir, Chorus
Simbryt Whititngton Choir, Chorus
Jeanette Olsson Background Vocals
Britta Bergström Background Vocals
Jamie Kenney Piano
Mike Ripol Guitar
Love Sponge Orchestra Strings
Joe Ayoub Bass
Kimberly Allen Vocals
Antonio Avant Background Vocals
Crystal Edwards Background Vocals
Lauren Pilot Choir, Chorus
Joan Walton Hanks Choir, Chorus
Lee Griffin Track Performer
Crystal Edwards Background Vocals
Seanna Turner Background Vocals
Lee Griffin Vocals
Technical Credits
Franne Golde Composer, Producer
Thom Cadley Vocal Engineer
Kurt Clayton Vocal Arrangements
Brian Culbertson Arranger, Producer, Engineer, drum programming
Kenny Hicks Vocal Arrangements, Vocal Producer
Steve "Silk" Hurley Producer, Vocal Arrangements, drum programming
Marco Marinangeli String Arrangements
Jeffrey Morrow Choir Arrangement
Travon Potts Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Instrumentation
Brad Haehnel Programming, Engineer
Craig Bauer Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Vocal Engineer, Vocal Producer, Pro-Tools
Tracy Carter Vocal Arrangements
F. Reid Shippen Engineer
Kenny Komisar Executive Producer
Dan Muckala Producer
Jeff Moseley Executive Producer
Ron Scott Producer
Jennifer Paige Composer
Chaka Blackmon Producer
Isaac Phillips Producer, Vocal Arrangements, Instrumentation
Greg Bieck Producer, Engineer, drum programming
Pete Kipley Producer, String Arrangements, String Conductor
Bart Millard Composer
Kasia Livingston Composer
Bag & Peer Arranger, Producer
Brian "Big Bass" Gardner Mastering
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Big let down

    The LaShell that wowed the audience on the Ophra show does not show up on this album. The music is over produced and overprocessed. Just let the girl sing as she has a fabulous voice that unfortunatly was overshadowed by too many things on this album. Also there are a few too many religious songs for a pop album. Songs are lackluster at best. Hopefully for her next album there will be a better selection of material.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews