FergieFergie: Double Dutchess
Double Dutchess

Why there hasn’t been more Fergie released since her solo debut (2006’s gazillion-selling The Dutchess) probably comes down to then-fresh family commitments. That’s a shame. Not because her marriage is (gossip alert) crumbling, but rather because her vocal talents are many.

She can rough-ride hip-hop’s rhythms, manipulate the nuances of glossy R&B balladry, and belt out grand rockers with the power and emotion of Ann Wilson. She makes swagger sweet. Voices like that are few and far between, so Double Dutchess is a welcome return. A strange one too, considering this is Fergie’s first album devoid of Black Eyed Peas boss will.i.am’s compositional touch (he does share production credits on several tracks).

Sure, it shares similarities to Dutchess #1, and feels dated in spots. L.A. Love (La La) with rapper YG is a London Bridge retread complete with phony foreign accents.

The acoustic strum of Save It Till Morning copies the shimmering blueprint of Ferg’s Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal) to a T. The femme-braggadocious M.I.L.F.$. is too conscious in its hot pursuit of old school hip-hop, as is You Already Know.

Yet, those tracks sound great, with the gooey, gauzy New Wave of Hungry (sampling Dead Can Dance, no less), the torrid, trop-house Enchanté (Carine), and the Jamaican-inspired Love Is Blind all giving Fergie the necessary wind (and unique musicality) for her breezy, buoyant voice. Brava. — Tribune News Service