Prime Cuts: The Breakup Song, Love Somebody, You Belong
Overall Grade: 3/5
When Francesca Battistelli first hit the airwaves in 2008, she was a breed of her own. Her girl-next-door quirkiness makes her lyrics sound like homespun slogans that ring in our heads even after the song is over. How could we forget lines like: 'Cause I got a couple dents in my fender or Like sunlight burning at midnight/making my life beautiful beautiful? And the melodies Battistelli crafted then were of an eternal quality. They still sound so engaging and singable after the passing of a decade. However, as fame and success began to pave Battistelli's journey, she felt the need to merge with her fellow peers. Slowly, her songs began to sound like everyone else's on CCM radio. Sure, they are polished and sure they came from the pens of #1 hit-making scribes, but they erode Battisstelli of her uniqueness.
"Own It,"her first full-length studio album in 4 years, finds her attempt to return to form (albeit with varying successes). "The Breakup Song" is a fine exhibition of ingenuity. While the titular may suggest that this is a love-gone-wrong song, however, the song isn't directed to a boyfriend. Rather, the song is Battistelli's Dear John letter directed to fear: Fear, you don't own me/There ain't no room in this story. After a snowball of tunes that dive towards obscurity, "Love Somebody" has a distinctive 90s-sounding melody with a crystal clear message for us to love beyond the superficial.
"The Very Best" is a glaringly shiny boost to the self-esteem. The beats and the call-and-response between Battistelli and her pow-wow backing singers are so bright that you need shades on. "Royalty" canvas the same empowerment theme, but at least this time, the lyrics are more deeply grounded in the kingship of Jesus. Mentioning neon lights, technicolor, and furnace, "This Could Change Everything" brims with positivity. In a song that speaks of all the positive things that lie ahead of us, Battistelli doesn't really define who or what is the cause of such changes. Why CCM artists are reticent to mention Jesus while their secular counterparts litter their songs with the second person of the Trinity is behooving.
Much better is the power ballad "You Belong." Despite the song's tedious and overwrought melody, it is redeemed by Battistelli's Everest-reaching convicting delivery. "Defender" is Battistelli's stab at the worship genre (a la her hit "Holy Spirit"). While one is awed by Battietlli's vocal gymnastics, one is also underwhelmed by the dearth of warmth beneath the overblown sound. And what Bethel Music's Steffany Gretzinger adds vocally to the song is dubious. "Freedom," with its fat electronic beats, is a celebrative tune; a fitting closer to what is a dazzling album of positivity.
"Own It" in many ways is Battistelli attempt to re-capture something different relative to the vanilla out there in the CCM market. She does excel on a couple of aforementioned tracks. But she falters on others; perhaps this is because she has bought in to the teaching of positivity that undergirds so much of today's preaching. As a result many of the songs here are as lightweight and fluffy as the teachings themselves.