Marking her departure from the crowded barnyard of Arrested Development shortly after the success of the band’s first album, New Jersey native Dionne Yvette Farris’ solo debut strikes out on a jazzy, forward-thinking and rock-informed R&B path. Bouncy slide guitar propels both mixes of the infectious and uncommon “I Know” (a hit in ’95) as Farris’ vocal swoops make the song a dazzler. Alternately sassy, introspective and resolute in her lyrics, the singer/songwriter takes on the roles of a drug to be avoided in “Stop to Think” (music written by Lenny Kravitz) and advocate for a victim of physical abuse in “Don’t Ever Touch Me (Again).” Tory Ruffin’s heavy, near-grunge guitar chords turn the chorus of hot-and-bothered rhapsody “Passion” upside down. Farris’ circular philosophizing in “Reality” (“If we are here, then where is there?/And if in fact we’re here then why aren’t we there?”) is couched in cozy funk; musings about the self are wrapped in violin and cello on “Food for Thought.” Harmonizing with herself over main collaborator David Harris’ jazzy acoustic guitar and a little appropriate percussion, Farris breathes new life into the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” Going even further into vocalese, Farris pulls off a Bobby McFerrinish exercise in her own anti-sectarian “Human.” The only bit of this fine album that doesn’t make clear, compelling sense is the presence of actor David Alan Grier in two pointless little skits.
See also: Arrested Development