Jazmine Sullivan’s Fearless is defined by the Philadelphia native’s good taste and her everywoman persona. Rather than play the aspiring diva, on “Fear” Sullivan admits to the insecurities of the average woman: “I'm scared to fight ‘cause I’m scared to bleed / I'm scared of love ‘cause I’m scared he'll leave / I'm scared of drugs I’m scared to drink / I'm scared to swim ‘cause I’m scared to sink.” R&B demands bravado from its performers, but on Fearless Sullivan regards her audience with disarming trust and sincerity and her musical choices are similarly bold. The drumless “Lions, Tigers & Bears” is propelled by Sullivan’s voice alone, while the tapping piano riff of “Switch!” proves that pop music need not be syrupy to be catchy. Best of all is the Missy Elliott production “Need U Bad,” which borrows the throbbing bassline from the Jamaican riddim “Queen of the Minstrels” for a vivid portrayal of lust and infatuation. “After the Hurricane” and “Dream Big” are more generic constructions, but if it takes a few mainstream concessions to get something as exceptional as “Need U Bad” on the radio, there can be no reason to complain.

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