On her hooks to seminal songs from Jay-Z and Nas, neo-soul newcomer Chrisette Michele came off like some forgotten ’50s French chanteuse with jazz in her soul. After Def Jam released her well-received but slow-selling neo-R&B and modern soul debut, I Am, Michele decided to turn over more of the songwriting duties for 2009’s Epiphany. The gambit worked, as the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, bringing her lush, jazz-inflected vocals to the larger audience they deserve. Michele edges a bit closer to pop on her third LP, Let Freedom Reign, thanks to energetic production from Epiphany’s Chuck Harmony, but even the questionable rapping on the title track can’t distract from Michele’s alluring voice.