John Legend

    Once Again


    I don’t know if it’s because Get Lifted is so good or because R&B these days is so bad, but I’ve been trying really hard to like the new John Legend record. I’ve almost done it, too, thanks to my dogged persistence and Legend’s dedication to quality production. “Stereo,” which I would assume will be the next single, is dark and sexy, and “Slow Dance” is that old-school baby-making music. Then again, the album’s second half is still woefully lacking, one big mess of boredom and monotony. When a record has a four-minute song called “Again” and a five-minute song called “Another Again” four tracks later, you’ve got problems.


    Those problems all started a month ago with the production “Save Room,” inexplicably selected as the vanilla single that must be the label’s big hope to hit the Starbucks crowd. The Black Eyed Pea has been squandering the potential of a number of great artists recently, and “Save Room” is no different: a dull, non-threatening slice of slickness. It’s far from the worst song on the album, but I may not be the first person to think of Eagle Eye Cherry when I listen to it, and I certainly won’t be the last.


    The biggest fear coming out of the success of Get Lifted was that its biggest hit, “Ordinary People,” would inform Legend’s next record. It seems to have been confirmed, because that song, in search of a strong melody and interesting beat, has found company in most of the work here. The few great songs on Once Again are big successes that will stay in my playlists for a while, and coupled with the strong production (or should I say engineering?) on even the weakest tracks, Legend can at least look his modern soul competition in the eye. Unfortunately for us, there aren’t many artists in the genre who can do the same. For now, though, I’ll stick with British artist Lemar’s The Truth About Love, and that’s really a shame.



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