Personnel: Michelle Chamuel (vocals, keyboards, programming, background vocals); Tyler Duncan (guitar, keyboards, percussion, programming, background vocals); Theo Katzman (guitar, drums, percussion, background vocals); Julian Allen, Mike Shea , Joe Dart, Woody Goss, Jack Stratton (background vocals).
She certainly is what one would call "multifaceted," but when singer, songwriter, producer, and reality show runner-up Michelle Chamuel released this debut album, what she was best known for and her greatest artist strength didn't necessarily "jive" in the way that they should. Her crafted, edgy, and inspiring effort Face the Fire rights many of these slight "wrongs" as it presents the former Voice contestant as the all-around artist she is, even if the music she creates is a unique jumble in itself. As a writer, Chamuel is an ace at writing empowering odes like TLC's "Unpretty," Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and numerous Taylor Swift songs, but her music comes with an '80s spirit, a '90s sheen, and a pop edge that's post-mashup, post-Internet, and maybe even post-genre. Check the delicate and intimate "Made for Me," where lyrics that come from deep in Chamuel's diary meet glitches that come from deep within in her laptop, while "Lottery" is the unlikely place where Katy Perry, James Blake, and Sam Smith all meet, shooting off fireworks that burst like lowercase edm and featuring beats that are best suited for dance moves where your glasses don't fly off. Those who didn't make the cheerleader squad get the kinetic title cut as a brilliant alternative to Swift's "Shake It Off," then "Golden" appears as swoon-worthy dubstep while the singer's vocals fly like doves into the air, and suddenly one of dance music's more detested genres is returned to honor and esteem. The minor complaint about the album is that it seems a thoughtful gift for her Voice fans, with the singing (powerful and clean, as if Bette Midler were born in the age of Arcade Fire), and the songwriting (sincere and sticks-to-the-bones) hogging the spotlight as her dub and remix producer persona Reverb Junkie remains tamed in the background. Still, for an artist who made her grand entrance on national television rather than on album, the worthy Face the Fire is a more a brilliant transition than it is an"As Seen on TV"-styled memento. ~ David Jeffries