"The MF Life" is coming a little later than Melanie Fiona had planned, but the singer feels its a case of all good things coming to those who wait.
"You know, there were a lot of changes, obviously, in the music industry, a lot of merging and label mergers and fires and re-hires and stuff like that," Fiona, who moved from Motown to Universal Republic for "The MF Life," which comes out March 20 after an originally planned 2011 release. "When it gets like that, it gets hectic and you have to wait for the dust to settle and keep your head above water and see where you're gonna land. So I used the time to keep working on the album and perfecting it...In retrospect, (the waiting) served a better purpose."
Fiona says the delay allowed her "to get some last-minute features" on the album, including J. Cole on "This Time" and Nas on the rocking "Running." "I Been That Girl," co-written by Drake, was also a late addition to "The MF Life," as were the funky "Watch Me Work" and "6 AM," a bonus track featuring T-Pain. "That was like a buzz record, something we wanted to add as a little extra thing at the last second," says Fiona, who co-wrote six songs for the album and three more for the deluxe edition.
Fiona says her goal with "The MF Life" was to give an "honest" depiction of her life and how things have changed from 2009's "The Bridge." "It's basically telling stories that have never been told, that I've experienced and grown from and learned from," she explains. "I think there's a definite balance with the highs and the lows. This time I'm stronger. I'm better. I've been on the 'Wrong Side of a Love Song' and I'm doing better and you're watching me work. I've got songs like 'Breaking Down These Walls' that are definitely empowering on the leap to love from a partnership standpoint, being stronger for your partner. People tend to remember the more heartbroken and sad records, but...I wanted to give a little taste of all the different colors of what it is to fall in love with somebody."
"The MF Life," according to Fiona, was culled from a large body of songs, but she's not viewing those that did not make the cut as leftovers. "It was about making the best body of work for this place, so I'm telling the best story for where I'm at," she says. "There are some great records that didn't make this album that will have a life. I think they're still classic and timeless, so I might put them out as individual singles or on the third album or maybe get to somebody else to record." She's "already writing for the third album," but promoting "The MF Life" is "really consuming me now, so I haven't been in the studio much these days. The minute the waters get settled and I start to get back on the road and can be back in cities with producers and writers I love working with, I can get some ideas and feelings going."
Fiona is in the midst of a pre-release promo tour for "The MF Life," with some live showcases beginning March 21 at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and including the Austin Urban Music Festival on March 30 in Texas. Meanwhile, she expects a more extensive tour will follow once the album is out. "Hopefully we can solidify a more set tour, whether with another artist or my own tour," she says. "Time will tell what we'll do once people hear the music and want it to come to their city."