Controversy and tragedy followed hip-hop diva Faith Evans as she approached making Faithfully (2001). The feuds surrounding the career of the Notorious B.I.G. (her late husband) nearly overshadowed the merits of her music. Moving beyond the bad times, Evans turned Faithfully into a statement of artistic renewal. This isn’t to say that the album is a happy record — the songs deal with heartaches and breakups more often than successful relationships. Evans’ gospel-tempered voice brings an aching authenticity to “Alone In The World” and “You Gets No Love.” An even higher plateau of torment is reached on “Can’t Believe,” a wailing duet with Carl Thomas. At the other extreme, she cuts loose on the surprisingly carefree “Back To Love” and delivers a sultry pledge of devotion in “Do Your Time.” Some of the best moments here are the gentlest, particularly the billowy “Heaven Only Knows.” Evans’ versatility is emphasized by the album’s mixture of East and West Coast-style hip-hop, with production input from everyone from kingpin P. Diddy to new kid Michelangelo Saulsberg. The beats throb and ripple, the flutes add spice — but in the end, it’s Faith’s show and she comes through like a true-born soul survivor.