Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Soul 2008 Style

Ne-Yo writes 'em better than he sings them, although listening to 2008's Year of The Gentlemen I was surprised at how melisma free it was. Obviously, he wasn't influenced by Brian McKnight. Nor was he by Babyface, who he often gets compared to. Ne-Yo does want to bring back the sound of Quincy Jones' late 70's/early 80's productions. He's best when he's vulnerable, and that's commendable in a 21st Century Soul singer. "Why Does She Stay" is the album's best song, and an example of reverse machismo. "So You Can Cry" and "Miss Independent" right behind. This is a better album than Usher's, but it does grow wearisome. Eventually, Ne-Yo's beats begin to resemble each other. I was surprised to see some critic's list this as the best Soul album of 2008. What Ne-Yo's doing, by trying to give us Off The Wall era music is fine, but I'll take Raphael Saadiq's tribute to 1960's Soul. And he's a better singer. Although Ne-Yo may have him beat as a songwriter.
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