Though she’s been paraded around as something along the lines of a mini-Ciara, with her big voice and young exterior, 15-year-old Tiffany Evans is a lot more reminiscent of a younger Monica. Unfortunately, these days that vocal maturity comes somewhat as a double edged sword. If it were 1998, Tiffany Evans would likely make a quick ascension to the top of the R&B charts with the other teen divas of the day. But in the R&B-lite, crossover lusting era we’re in now, a strong voice can only take you so far. Indeed, the maturity required for record sales now typically has little to do with vocals – or that’s at least, what many A&R reps would have us believe.
A too grown too soon, contrived image for a young teenager doesn’t always lead to breakout success, however. Take Teairra Mari’s mismanaged debut for example. The former “Princess of the Roc” turned R&B Amil had her credible vocal talent and solid debut album overshadowed amid one too many perceived vulgarities in her lyrical content. The excuse of, “I ain’t have no daddy around when I was growing up” didn’t seem to help matters. In fact, after the release of “No Daddy” what little hope she did have of capitalizing on her much hyped album went the way of her father.
So, for a teen R&B act to break out in this decade and not be caught up in a “too grown vs. too kiddy” debate, there’s a fine line to walk. Thankfully, the team of tastemakers of the moment chosen to assist Tiffany Evans on her self-titled album makes sure she walks that line easily. On her debut, you find age appropriate musings on young love amid the same level of slick production found on sets from her older peers. In fact, much of the album recalls similar themes explored by the likes of Tracie Spencer and Shanice some twenty years ago.
There is however, a level of sophistication and maturation in Evans seen through tracks like “Girls Gone Wild.” Unlike the Teairra’s of the world that fault their behavior on the mistakes of others, Tiffany encourages younger girls to embrace the virtues of self-respect. “You need to button up your blouse, put back on your vest, cuz you’re out here looking a mess,” a stern Evans warns.
Much like another teen singer of the 00s, JoJo, Tiffany has a set of vocal chops so impressive that one can’t help but anticipate the vocal growth that lies ahead. If “Lay Back & Chill,” is any indication, I look forward to hearing what an adult Tiffany Evans will sound like. That is, if I’m given the chance to.
The only thing wrong with the album has nothing to do with Evans herself. It’s a shame that despite an ample amount of time to build on the success of her first single, the charming “Promise Ring,” thanks to her label’s inability to properly promote her project, Evans only managed to move in excess of 4,000 the first week of her album’s release.
Hopefully the young singer will start moving albums out of her Tonka trunk. With much of R&B suffering from tonsillitis, when real talent shows up without stilettos in tow, it deserves to be heard.