In 2011, when songstress Jazmine Sullivan announced to the world via Twitter that she was taking a break from music to “figure out who I am without a mic, paper or a pen” we were all a tad bit shocked and equally disappointed. While we hoped that she would find the peace that she seemed to desperately need, we were hoping that it would be a quick break and that her departure wouldn’t be definite.  Sullivan, with two studio albums under her belt by 2011, was on the cusp of something fresh, with her soulful, bellowing voice and vintage hip-hop meets soul vibe.  She was our Mary J; her music was the soundtrack to our heartaches as well as our love stories and she did it with a voice that made you cringe, because it sounded and felt so good—so naturally good.

With the recent release of her third album, Reality Show, it’s clear that during her hiatus Sullivan found what she was looking for and then some. The twelve track LP, is a glimpse into a broken heart that’s still healing but also an unfiltered view of a culture so emblazoned by hashtags and portraying to the world, or at least to our Twitter and Instagram followers, that we have it all together.  Recorded mostly in her hometown, the Philly native says that she laid down most of the records with just her and an engineer in the studio. Hoping to escape the reality that had become her life and dealing with all that plagues the demise of a long-term relationship, Sullivan, now 27, weaves listeners through a complete album about love and the façade of life behind Instagram and her admitted guilty pleasure, reality television. “Mascara” tells the story of the girl we all know via social media, the beauty who lives the lavish, country-hopping lifestyle, which leaves most of us envious. “HoodLove” chronicles the relationship of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, the rider who loves her man past the good lovin’. “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” is a beautiful moment of a woman that finally sees herself as she is, an incomparable work of art, no longer dimming her light for the sake of society and its standards of beauty and worth. But it’s the emotion driven “Forever Don’t Last” where Sullivan is her most vulnerable. She delicately laments about a relationship that’s ended, despite its hopes of forever.

Reality Show is an unflinching, honest album, showing a mature and definitely a more confident Sullivan. Her vocal prowess on this project reminds listeners of why we simply love that raspy, soulful voice, but her lyrical content reassures us that there are artists still willing to go deeper and give us their most truthful take on our culture.

Be sure to grab Jazmine Sullivan’s REALITY SHOW today on iTunes!