John Legend - Legend Music Album Reviews

John Legend - Legend Music Album Reviews
On an 81-minute double album, the EGOT singer-songwriter enlists an impressive roster of guests to help bring more fun—and funk—to his music than he has in years.

These days, John Legend’s reputation lies as much in network television as it does in music, but his status as a ubiquitous, EGOTing, family-friendly singer of inspirational R&B tunes isn’t entirely fair to the range of his discography. On his 2004 debut Get Lifted, a boisterous proof-of-concept for Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label, the former choir director and pianist gave equal space to tender ballads and odes to philandering, painting himself as a neo-soul casanova who could make infidelity sound downright spiritual. Over time, Legend’s more earnest archetype won out; his deeply personal single “Ordinary People,” inspired by his parents marrying and divorcing twice, became a commercial and critical success. Later, he landed a spot on wedding playlists for eternity with “All of Me,” thus completing his transformation into a representative for domestic bliss.

His latest album, Legend, is not a complete 180 back to the playboy territory he once dabbled in, even if his shirtless pose on the cover may suggest so. But it does bring more fun and funk into Legend’s music than he has during the past decade. Part of that lightness can be attributed to the album’s length: At 81 minutes and 24 songs, this is a proper double LP, and the added space gives Legend the opportunity to stretch his limbs and tap into more playful modes he may have usually cast off in favor of his doting family-man image. This, of course, can lead to some repetition—if one horny track called “Waterslide” wasn’t enough for you, there’s another called “Splash”—but the whole thing flies by with such carefree ease that it never feels overstuffed.

Legend’s previous album, 2020’s Bigger Love, made some misguided attempts at bringing pop energy to his schtick. Legend, executive produced with Ryan Tedder, settles on a pop-funk sound better suited to his sensibilities: timeless, genial, and a pleasant contrast from his usual tear-jerkers. Suave tracks like “Guy Like Me” and “Strawberry Blush”—the latter recorded with Anderson .Paak collaborators Free Nationals —would fit right at home at a birthday party or barbecue alongside recent material from Beyoncé and Silk Sonic. And just like .Paak and Bruno Mars’ collaboration, Legend instinctively understands the potential in hamming it up with retro style. “You” could be a direct descendant of Roger Troutman’s 1987 electro love song “I Want to Be Your Man,” talkbox and all. Seeing this side to Legend isn’t exactly a revelation, but it’s refreshing to hear him loosen up his tightly controlled persona with these songs, especially when he ascends to roller-rink glory on lead single “All She Wanna Do” (appearing twice here, with and without Saweetie).

The impressive roster of collaborators—Rapsody, Rick Ross, Amber Mark, Jhene Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign—helps push Legend out of his comfort zone, particularly in his vocals. In the gospel-influenced slow jam “Love,” with Jazmine Sullivan, both singers soar over bare-bones cymbals and a venerable horn section, paying homage to Legend’s church roots. On opener “Rounds,” Legend complements Ross’ luxury raps (“Pickin' rose pedals in Anisa, France/Pink peacocks roamin' at the mansion”) with a buttery-smooth drawl, punctuated by the occasional Prince-like yelp.

Although a talented songwriter, Legend is not a memorable lyricist, and he can falter when attempting to write a catchy pop hook. (“She’s sooooo dope/Wanna be her dope fiend/She shows me what dope means,” he spells out on “Dope.”) The second half of the album returns largely to devotional anthems, and while there are some interesting production choices here and there, like the reggae beat on “I Want You to Know,” hearing them all bundled together feels like an admission that, even while dipping his toes into other moods and genres, Legend feels obligated to keep returning to the same sound that propelled his biggest hits. It’s a reminder that, no matter the window dressing, he always gravitates towards his foremost appeal: a simplicity that can easily translate into universalism.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
John Legend - Legend Music Album Reviews John Legend - Legend Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 Rating: 5

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