Damita Haddon burst onto the scene in 2000 with her self-titled debut release on Atlantic Records. Now almost 13 years later, she is back with her third highly anticipated release appropriately titled, ANTICIPATION.

With the majority of the album produced by Fred ‘Blaze’ Crawford, who has crafted hits for jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, as well as R&B chart toppers, Adina Howard and Dave Hollister, Blaze manages to create a well balanced, Urban Gospel album, without falling into the pitfalls of it feeling forced, typical and over the top.

The lead single opens the project up with the pop dance inspired, “Won’t Turn Back.” The bubbly, infectious hook and positive message makes this a fun moment early on in the CD and a great first single. If the song doesn’t get you into a good groove, then you need to get your joy back from whoever stole it!

The urban edge on “I’m Still Here” boasts of an inspiring message about not giving up and standing tall until the very end, which leads right into the electronica, mid-tempo praise jam, “Praise U Now.”

“Amazing God” finds Damita venturing into the live praise and worship territory that doesn’t really work for me.  The continuous repetition becomes tiresome and the vocals in the latter part of the song grow to be overwhelming and piercing. “Be Revealed” had the makings of being a pleasant ballad, but right around the hook it takes a more aggressive rock turn, which is not what I was expecting at all when the lyrics to the hook are so endearing. “I surrender all to You Lord. Body, mind, spirit and soul. Take my life. Do what You will Lord. Let Your glory be revealed.”

Thankfully the project falls back in line in a big way with two of my favorites; “Elevate Me” and “Don’t Walk Away”. The rhythmic spring on “Elevate Me” laced with Haddon’s soothing vocals, really makes this float and highlights the catchy hook perfectly. “Elevate me. Take me higher in You. A level I never knew. Gotta be closer to You.” “Don’t Walk Away” is the quintessential R&B song of the whole project. And after listening to the lyrics, this is one of those songs that could go either way. So, whether she’s singing about a relationship or God pleading for us to say, the passion Damita sings with translates picture perfect!

The title track “Anticipation” is a mellow, pop ballad that showcases Damita’s sweet vocal textures as she croons with ease about the excitement of waiting on God.

The hard-hitting “TTLO (Turn the Lights On)” is the most vocally intricate and interesting cut on the entire album. The Brandy-esque background vocals and the fluidity of the various vocal changes brings this one too life, courtesy of, up and coming singer/songwriter/producer, Brandon Avery Smith.

The album closes with the sentimental ballad  “I Love You” and the women’s empowerment club anthem “Super She’ro,” which comes off enormously cliché and kind of corny. It’s clear what Haddon was going for, but it lacked lyrical depth and creativity.

To sum up Damita’s ANTICIPATION, I enjoyed it far more than I expected. I was pleased to hear an evenness throughout most of the album that I felt was missing on her previous CD, NO LOOKING BACK. With Damita writing or co-writing every song on the album, it was refreshing to see she didn’t mindlessly go for the praise and worship route because that is what’s selling. She went with a sound that best suited her and presented a collection of songs that I think truly represent her as an artist. Overall it’s a fun project, that’s not overly deep, but lends catchy hooks, encouraging messages and superb production. So, 1 ½ CRICKETS for ANTICIPATION. I strongly suggest checking it out. I think you may be pleasantly surprised, like I was!