Jahmene Douglas “Love Never Fails” Album Review

Timothy YapJul 27, 2013 01:23 PM EDT
Jahmene Douglas
(Photo :Jahmene Douglas)

X -Factor's finalist Jahmene Douglas' life reads like a blockbuster movie.  Growing up with two brothers and a sister, they lived in the fear of their dad.  When their father, Eustace Douglas, was unemployed, the entire family was forced to become refugees.  But suffering physical abuse was least of Douglas children's fears.  One day, to the chagrin and horror of the entire family, Eustace Doulas set their long suffering mother Mandy on fire with a blow torch.  In God's grace and mercy, God's sovereign finger was never lifted from Douglas' life.   Douglas miraculously grew up to become a committed Christian and while he was on X-Factor, he was never reticent about his faith.  While many of his peers were indulging in alcohol and pre-marital hanky panky, Douglas remained committed to chastity and moral purity.  "Love Never Fails" is Douglas debut album on RCA Records ensuing from his jaw-dropping performances on X-Factor.   In keeping with the show's tenure, these 10 cuts here are all covers from Beyonce, Coldplay, Whitney Houston, David Guetta, Sia, Sarah McLachlan & Emeli Sande. .

But "Love Never Fails" is far from a souvenir album:  this isn't a replica of Douglas' TV performances repackaged as a disc for diehard fans.  Rather, Douglas has utilized his own life experiences and beliefs as the guiding criterion to the selection of these songs.  Songs such as "His Eyes is on the Sparrow," "Give Us This Day" and "I Look to You" were obviously chosen to reflect his faith as they are explicitly Christian songs.  While others such as "Halo," "Fix You" "In the Arms of Angels" and "Greatest Love of All" are inspirational in nature.  And in the light of Douglas' horrendous upbringing, it is crystal clear why this English artist would tackle "Titanium."  Originally a hit for French DJ David Guetta and Australia artist Sia, "Titanium" speaks of a woman who could not take the abuse at home. Mustering up enough courage she finally left her abuse behind.  Considering what Douglas and his mom had been through, you can tell Douglas means every syllable in this song.  Without holding an iota of emotion back, Douglas lets his heart lead the way right through this emotionally packed song here.

It is no secret that Douglas is a big fan of the late great Whitney Houston.  Throughout his performances, he has had made it explicit more than once.  So, it is no surprise that four songs associated with Whitney Houston are included here.  It is apparent that Douglas is a keen learner of Houston's live antics when she delivered "I Look to You" in her final tour.  Douglas almost mimics the way Houston would often hurried through the first verse before exploding on the chorus of this R. Kelly written ballad about looking to God when the levees of life are broken.  "Greatest Love of All," Houston's signature number one record, is turned into duet with Douglas' mentor Nicole Scherzinger.  Instead of trying to reinvent this ballad, Doulas and Scherzinger have religiously kept close to the origin with those ceiling hitting notes all intact.  "Give Us This Day" (which features Stevie Wonder on harmonica) and "His Eye is on the Sparrow" were Houston's favorite hymns of which the latter became the icon's farewell single.  

Of the more inspirational numbers, Douglas' take of Coldplay's plaintive "Fix You" is encouraging.  Some may recall that "Fix You" was also played live at the funeral of Steve Jobs at the Apple Headquarters in 2011.  Of all the songs that have graced secular radio in the last decade, "Fix You" will definitely get conversations going revolving around life, disappointments and ultimately about the Gospel.  If you have been awed just like thousands were with Douglas lots of notes holding tenor, you wouldn't get disappointed here.  Douglas sings each note as if his life is dependent on it.  And though this is marketed as a pop record, the songs here are transparent enough for Douglas' life and faith to shine through.




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