Despite a successful career as a solo artist ("Love Like This") and as a guest vocalist ("Heartbreak Hotel," "I'll Be Missing You"), former session singer and Notorious B.I.G. widow Faith Evans has st

Despite a successful career as a solo artist ("Love Like This") and as a guest vocalist ("Heartbreak Hotel," "I'll Be Missing You"), former session singer and Notorious B.I.G. widow Faith Evans has still not become the household name she should be. But with a new label and her first album since 2001's "Faithfully," the former first lady of Bad Boy is poised to rectify that situation. By turns playful, sexy, soulful, funky and passionate, Evans showcases the full range of her talents on her most consistent effort yet. She fearlessly tackles the speculative drama her headline-making arrest sparked last year on the retro groover "Again." Whether clubbin' with the girls ("Goin' Out") or assessing love and its inherent issues ("Stop N Go"), Evans confidently holds center stage. But she really lets loose on the raw and funky "Mesmerized," paying tribute to recently deceased James Brown Revue queen Lyn Collins.—GM