Artist:  V3
Title:  "V3"
Label:  EMI Gospel

On the heels of the announcement of Out of Eden’s retirement, the advent of V3 is almost too good to be true. Three sisters making urban-savvy music for the kingdom? It sounds eerily familiar.

The comparisons don’t end there:  Atlanta siblings LaToya, Sacha and Shelley Vinson’s silky, airy harmonies are almost a dead-ringer for those of the Tennessee girls and are put to good use on their national self-titled debut for EMI Gospel.

As is typical with out-of-the-gate R&B albums, first impressions are important, a fact that is somewhat lost on the group – or, in this case, their producers. Instead of setting things ablaze with a fiery opener, V3 sets the pace with “Let Go,” a futuristic bit of pop and electro-funk that works when removed from its surroundings but that would’ve proved more useful elsewhere on the album.

Even after that curious thesis statement, “Love Makes the World Beautiful” and “I Need You” prove to be difficult follow-ups – both too smooth and sedate to make a memorable mark in a landscape that, for the most part, uses rhythm and beats-per-minute to gauge hotness. “I Need You,” in particular, is the worst offender – a passionate, yet ultimately unremarkable ballad, not to mention a dreadful choice for a first single. 

Thankfully, and not surprisingly, the trio hits the spot as soon as it pays homage to the ATL in “Take Me There,” a smoldering crunk-n-b anthem of the Ciara order, whispered vocals and all. This and the devil-bashing “Let’s Take It” are winners not only for their execution – which perfectly channels Lil’ Jon and Jazze Pha’s production work on Ciara’s biggest hits – but also because of how rare they sound in the context of urban gospel music, which, to this day, has yet to produce a bona fide crunk-pop banger.

From there, the album is markedly less threatening, either diving headlong into maudlin balladry or entertaining mid-tempo sensibilities. Neither of these is an inherently bad move; instead, they’re simply misguided choices for an inaugural effort that, in theory, should showcase the chic vibrancy and exuberance of these three young ladies.

These inconsistencies notwithstanding, V3 need not worry. As with the Out of Eden sisters, it took trial-and-error and a couple of middle-of-the-road albums before they veritably found their footing in the ever-developing Christian R&B circuit. 

   
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