There was a moment in time when Brian McKnight was everywhere. From outstanding record sales (6 gold or platinum albums in a row) to his cameos on TV shows, he literally had the Midas touch. Today, two things puzzle me about his career. He has an astounding 27 award nominations (16 of those Grammys) and only 2 wins (none of those Grammys). So what happened? Since 2003, his last 3 albums have failed to chart and outside of his radio show, he’s been missing in action (by most people’s accounts) even on the days that his albums have dropped. I had a friend that actually listens to R&B ask me “he’s still making music?” Now we’re here, with his 12th album hitting the charts. I personally don’t think he’s dropped a bad album up to now, but it’s important to note that each of his previous charting albums were with Motown. Ok, enough talk, let’s get into his latest album Just Me.
Featuring Brian McKnight Jr.
Just like on Musiq’s last joint, we get a song dedicated to being a faithful man, a sentiment that is lacking in music. Musically it has a mid 90′s feel to it, but the track does seem to lack something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it feels like a long intro instead of a full out song.
2. Fall 5.0
This song really feels like it’s from the late 80′s until the bass comes in and the track changes up. Matter of fact, it sounds like “Take On Me” by Ah-Ha when it first starts. It transitions to a more contemporary R&B sound that I enjoy. The melody is simple and catchy.
3. One Mo Time
I think this baseline was inspired by the classic “Earth Angel.” Brian definitely follows the trend of a lot of these albums lately and takes us on a trip through time. I really love this song from the music to the overall production. Lyrically it’s no slouch either
And I won’t keep you, no, you don’t have to fear
I thank God for all the smiles, and I’m sorry for all the tears
before you turn and walk away baby, and leave it all behind
Just let me love you, let me love you baby
why don’t you just let me love you woman
let me love you with all that I got
just let me love you one mo time.
4. Gimme Yo Love
I would include this song on a soundtrack called R&B music 101: How to Write Uptempo R&B Music. This song is a blueprint for making those jams and there isn’t much I can say about the song without you hearing it. Great song, one of my favorites on the album.
5. Husband 2.1
I like the attitude of the song…hate almost everything else. It sounds like a very bad version of “Dirty Diana” musically, all rocked out and headbanger-ish. I think I don’t like it especially from Brian so yeah, I’ll just move past this one. Color me close minded this time around, I’ll be that.
6. Without You
We’ve heard this song different times sung different ways. Basically, I’ve been all around the world but I can’t find anyone else like you. It’s a good song and me stating it like that does diminish this one unintentionally, it’s a really good song.
7. Just Lemme Know
This is the best song on the album. The beat builds with 30 seconds of musical introduction before he sings the first lyric. There are some chords here that remind me a lot of “Fall 5.0″ but this is definitely a different song. The story is about being in a love triangle of sorts. He wants her and she’s deciding between him and someone else.
Just let me know
The way you want to play it
Just let me know
Write a letter if you can’t say it
Just let me know
The way you want it to be
Is it him or is it me
If you need time, In the mean time
Just let me know
8. End And Beginning With You
I like the sentiment of this song, but not the song so much. Something about the production here just feels boring or something…I can’t call it, but this son is pretty unremarkable to me.
9. Careless Whisper
I’ll admit that I may not be right on this one, but I first hear this when George Micheal did it so I consider it a remake of that song. Then it was a great R&B/pop song, but Brian gives it a different take. He turns the jazz all the way up on his remake, and’ it’s pretty good. Y’all know I’m a mark for live instruments so this is great for me. It’s a bit odd considering I like the GM version so much itself, but this one is nice.
10. Just Me
One thing Brian has done on every album is either close it out, or include a Gospel song. He continues the trend here with classic Gospel song that’s been covered by more people than I can even mention. As expected, he hits another homerun and closes the album out in great Brian McKnight fashion.
Brian McKnight has yet to put out a bad album as far as I’m concerned. he has one of the more memorable voices ever and has consistently put out solid albums no matter what the sales try and tell us. We know that outside drama tends to toy with sales as well, so his divorce and the circumstance around that may lead to the lack of sales (he hasn’t gone even gold since his divorce). This album is solid and another one for the collection. He takes some chances on this one that he hasn’t done in a while and while some are more successful than others, it’s good to hear him manage to keep himself fresh while not sounding like he’s trying too hard to assimilate to the changing game. The big bonus to this is that there is a second disc, The Live Album. It’s 30 segments of him talking or singing so I ain’t reviewing that track by track. It is however something that helps to raise the score on this album and ads to the collection. Be sure to pick this one up when you see it, you won’t be sorry.
Soulections: “Fall 5.0″, “One Mo Time”, “Gimmie Yo Love”, “Just Lemme Know”