This review ran in Bitch Magazine a while back.
Point of No Return
You know Shareefa is real because she keeps telling you that she went to prison. Also, she has a skit in which some random radio doofus earnestly asserts that her songs come “from the heart.”
And once you get past these irritating authenticity claims? Well, as it happens, you’ve got a top-notch R&B record without any of the self-conscious stiffness that usually dogs those obsessed with their own sincerity. Shareefa has a low, slightly raspy voice which drips soul, and the productions are excellent. Many of the songs are genuinely old school — “Phony” and “Assumptions” do the Philly Sound almost better than Gamble and Huff themselves; “Hey Babe” has a gorgeous horn motif right out of a Stax ballad. The Rodney Jenkins-produced “Need a Boss,” on the other hand, with its unrepentantly gimmicky stutter, is clearly of the oughts. And then there’s the Chucky Thompson-helmed “Eye Wonder,” which splits the difference with a deep, menacing throb I’m sure they would have concocted back in the day if they’d had the production technology. (Hard to believe this was the guy responsible for much of Mary J. Blige’s wack, over-rated early output.)
Lyrically, there aren’t many surprises — we’ve got cheating, no-good men, and a hard-knock life. We’ve got (of course) a song about her man in prison. And we’ve got “How Good Luv Feels,” about what the title says. But if you’re afraid of a few clichés, you’ve probably given up on pop music altogether and are busy listening to Beethoven. Shareefa may not be as real as that, but when she makes music this great, I can’t hold it against her.
People Who Should Listen to This Record and Just Go Home, Please: Macy Gray
If Put In Prison, This CD: Wouldn’t care. It’s just a piece of plastic, y’know?