In her self-indulgent, autobiographical R&B album I Am Right Here, Phoenix's Jodi Light does her best Erykah Badu impersonation. Complete with an awkward voice-over introduction that defines the album's title and its intentions, the disc is an odd celebration of, well, Jodi Light -- the spoken intro ends with a clip from Light's appearance on The Mike Douglas Show at age 5, as if the album were a digital résumé rather than a pop record.
The similarities between Baduizm and I Am Right Here don't stop with the bizarre voice-overs. "Be With You" begins with a recorded telephone call that reveals nothing other than two people talking. Light recycles Badu's bass-heavy grooves and attempts to attach her lyrical anecdotes to the sometimes-funky, sometimes-soulful tracks.
There's something to be said for an effective impersonation. Badu was, in fact, channeling Lady Day. Light can sing very well, indeed. It's just difficult to separate Light's talent as a vocalist from the album's facile contents. The telephone conversation on "Be With You" turns out to be with one of Light's childhood friends, and the song proceeds to document her childhood memories: "Starin' at the stars, makin' plans/Eatin' peanut butter toast with no hands/Potato chip, French onion dip/Dressin' up, thinkin' we were so hip . . ." It wouldn't be a surprise to hear these recollections if one listened to the remainder of that phone conversation, but to hear it on an R&B record is a distraction.
As Light reveals in her intro, I Am Right Here is meant to create a lasting impression. The trouble is that the lasting impressions Light has from her everyday life aren't necessarily lasting for everyone else
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To purchase Jodi Light's I Am Right Here, log on to www.jodilight.com.