Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness is the solo debut recording by Syleena Johnson, the talented daughter of bluesman Syl Johnson. During a time when several daughters of famed bluesmen have launched singing careers of their own, Syleena appears to be one of the few who have chosen not to go along the straight ahead blues trail, focusing instead on the present day rhythm and blues style. That said, it is clear after only a couple of listenings that Syleena has definitely emphasized the blues in R+B with a CD that exudes a world of blues and pain for the listener.
Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness represents an extensively ambitious opening
project for Syleena; a theme-based recording that chronicles the love, pain and
forgiveness that occurs in a single relationship between two people. With an intro,
interlude and outro that help to mark the changes in the status of the relationship,
the songs on Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness move from the beginning of the
relationship and the unconditional love it holds to situations of confusion, infidelity,
spousal abuse, a decision to leave the pain and, ultimately forgiveness and
reconciliation where the couple get back together, achieving a different, more
respectful level of love. Listening to, and reading, the lyrics brings out the emotions
that fill each song that much more. With the exception of the opening song, "I Am
Your Woman," written by R. Kelly and the brief intro and interlude, all of the songs
are written or co-written by Syleena Johnson. Additionally, one song, "Baby, I'm So
Confused," appears to be co-written with Syl Johnson, Syleena's talented father and
another, "He's Gonna Do You In," incorporates the guitar work of the talented Buddy
Because of the way that Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness is arranged, it is very
difficult to listen to any one song alone. This especially true because of the fact that
one song tends to lead thematically to the next and not hearing the song before or
after leaves some unanswered questions for the listener. Despite that inherent
problem, I did particularly enjoy a number songs on the CD including "I Am Your
Woman," "Baby I'm So Confused," "You Got Me Spinnin'" and "He's Gonna Do You
In." I also found "Hit On Me" to be an extremely powerful song that discusses the
physical and emotional pain of spousal abuse. The song is filled with that pain,
providing a very powerful message to the listener.
If you are looking for a bright, cheerful, energetic recording, Chapter 1: Love, Pain &
Forgiveness is not the item that you are looking for. If you want to listen to a
recording with a story, a message and songs that are packed with a range of emotions, you will find this CD to your liking. If you decide to pick up a copy, I STRONGLY suggest that you listen to the entire recording in one sitting and read the lyrics as you listen to the songs. When I listened to the CD the first time, I was not
paying as much attention as I should have and I missed a great deal of the meaning
that is packed into the songs. Believe me, if you sit down and listen to this recording attentively, you will be moved. I guarantee it!
To pick up a copy of Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness, visit your local record
shop or e-tailer. For more information on Syleena Johnson visit her website at
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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