Billboard.com's Best Pictures of 2011

78 Billboard Rating

Melanie Fiona
The MF Life
Producers: various
Title 9/SRC/Universal Republic
Release Date: March 20

At the start of her second album, in the face of men who are treating her much worse, Melanie Fiona declares, "This time I'm doing much better." "The MF Life," it seems, is full of cads and heartbreaks, even for someone with a few R&B hits and a couple of Grammy Awards. But Fiona tears into them with righteous relish on the 13-song set. She may allow herself a bit of airy self-pity at "4 AM," but when he (in this case, guest T-Pain) rolls in at "6 AM," he's not going to sleep without getting smacked upside his booze-addled head. Meanwhile, Fiona is singing up a storm on "The MF Life," delivering a welcome big voice to perhaps fill in the void of recent departures like Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse. She gets torchy on the song "Wrong Side of the Love Song," buoyant on "L.O.V.E." (featuring John Legend), bluesy on the lyrically silly "Bones" and rockin' on "Running" (with Nas) and "Watch Me Work." It's indeed better the second time around, no matter who's running her down.

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