Over the past decade, many have lamented that contestants who win “American Idol” often disappear from the limelight while the runner-ups achieve unprecedented success in the music industry. Can the same be said for participants of “The Voice?” Michelle Chamuel may not have won the fourth season of NBC’s reality singing competition back in 2013, but her debut studio album, “Face the Fire,” is a refreshing change from the pop music of today.
The album’s first three tracks showcase Chamuel channeling a wide variety of artists. The title track has a pop rock feel to it, akin to the work of Sara Bareilles and Haim. The slow pace and soulful vocals of “The Fall” make the song sound similar in nature to Brandy’s 1998 R&B classic, “Have You Ever?” Chamuel reverts back to a modern vibe and channels a pop version of Tegan & Sara on “Golden” and is ultimately one of the best songs on the album.
The next two tracks, “Made For Me” and “Lottery,” show Chamuel carving her own sound: bubbly pop-paired with strong vocal talent. On “Lottery,” she tries to lure a romantic interest into her web of affection with encouraging advice like, “Let’s not make it harder than it has to be / I’ll take a chance on you, you’ll take a chance on me.” Unfortunately, this song may bring back awful memories of unrequited love for some listeners, but the rest of the album is bound to uplift your spirits!
Chamuel spends most of the first half of “Face the Fire” developing this upbeat pop ambiance, but the album takes an unexpected yet pleasant turn with “Weight of the World,” which is clearly influenced by calypso. The change in tone to something Caribbean-like is well-executed and the track does not disrupt the cohesiveness of the album. After a few more pop ballads, the album ends on a high note with “Give You,” an emotionally powerful song where one can hear the vulnerability in Chamuel’s voice.
“Face the Fire” experiments with different genres, but overall it is a pop album. It draws inspiration from music from the late 1990s and early 2000s, yet Chamuel manages to put a modern twist on the album. Her songs are wholesome, devoid of sexual innuendos and obscenities and the lyrics are neither corny nor clichéd. She was able to make an album that is clean and innocent, yet still fun, and this is a rare feat in pop music these days. Chamuel’s work will remind listeners of the “Total Request Live” era, back when NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears ruled the pop music scene. Being a runner-up on “The Voice” has not dampened Chamuel’s artistic abilities at all and the music industry will certainly be hearing about her for quite some time.
RECOMMENDED: “Face the Fire” will be appreciated for its modern take on old-school pop from the “TRL” years.