Entertainment Weekly - 6/01/01, pp.90-1
"...Belting out soulful tales of woe with equal parts bitterness and indomitability on [this] powerful debut..." - Rating: B+
Q - 5/01, p.1123 stars out of 5
- "...A highly autobiographical, cathartic narrative of a souring affair with an older man, produced by D'Angelo and Erykah Badu collaborator, Bob Power....promising stuff..."
Vibe - 6/01, p.1564.5 discs out of 5
- "...With an authoritative, wise alto topped by a hot-grease crackle, Johnson poignantly chronicles relationship issues....[Her] chillingly vivid delivery makes her seem like a willful survivor recounting the stories of her scars."
Personnel includes: Syleena Johnson, Liberty City Fla. (vocals); Bob Power (various instruments); JK (acoustic & electric guitars, programming); Donnie Lyle (guitar, bass); Randy Bowland, Buddy Guy (guitar); Roger Rosnberg (baritone saxophone); Andy Snitzer (saxophone); Jim Hynes (trumpet); David Fleming (keyboards, programming); Kendall Nesbitt, James Poyser, Robbie Kondor, Andy Ezrin (keyboards); Timmy Allen, TM Stevens (bass); Daniel Sadownick (congas, shaker, percussion, chimes); Donald Edwards, Bashiri Johnson, Ralph Rolle (percussion); Ian Mereness (programming).
Producers include: Bob Power, R. Kelly, Timmy Allen, JK, David Fleming.
Engineers include: Abel Garibaldi, Jon Smeltz, Chris Trevett.
Ignoring the burden of being the offspring of a famous musical talent (that would be father and R&B legend Syl Johnson), Syleena Johnson makes an impressive splash with her debut CHAPTER 1: LOVE, PAIN & FORGIVENESS. Despite only being 25, Johnson is an old soul whose first full-length is an impressively crafted semi-autobiographical story of a young woman and the ups and downs of a May/December relationship that eventually leads to her becoming an older and wiser survivor.
Aside from the first hit single "I Am Your Woman," (written and produced by fellow Chicago native R. Kelly), this talented singer-songwriter penned all of CHAPTER 1. A vocalist with a tone falling between Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan, Johnson confidently touches on salient topics like infidelity ("Ain't No Love"), domestic abuse ("Hit On Me"), and the need for healing and forgiveness ("The End [Outro]"), amidst slow rolling rhythms, wah-wah guitar and staccato beats. Other highlights include the ominous "He's Gonna Do You In" (featuring swirling background vocals and biting Buddy Guy guitar solos) and the low-key funk of "You Got Me Spinnin'. Johnson's stellar debut promises to be the first chapter of a long and productive career.