John Legend’s newest LP, Love in the Future, is an interesting collection of soul and pop/R&B jams that continue his tradition of brilliant musicianship and mastery of his one-of-a-kind voice.
The Bari-Tenor soul man re-emerges after a brief hiatus with a collection of songs that utilize his amazingly emotive voice atop of solid production and wrapped within engaging song writing.
Featuring mostly mid-tempo to slow songs, this album is a stark departure from his previous works that showcased not only his strong vocal ability but also his ability to rock a party.
In theme if not tempo, Legend newest album picks up whereThe Evolver left off. Where his last album found him singing less about find and wrestling with love and more about enjoying life and of course sex, this one follows in that pleasure trend but still allows for a little more.
Finding and maintaining love are the main themes here and amid other topics Legend hardly quickens the pace for more than an instant. This is album decidedly a very slow one.
On the lead single, Who Do We Think We Are, Legend joins forces with rapper and emerging mogul Rick Ross for one of the albums most memorable tracks. The pair brings a gritty reality to love game they are discussing and some real-world weight to a fairly ethereal sounding album.
While the album is slower than most, Legend does take advantage of the soul sound he has helped bring back to the fore-front of music.
Legend is sure to melt a few hearts covering a pair of R&B classics. The first is the Bobby Caldwell gem, Open Your Eyesas he puts his spin on a song steeped in love and dedication. The second is in an interlude that ends way too soon of Anita Baker’s Angel featuring Stacy Barthe.
It’s apparent that Legend is still a ‘legendary’ vocalist in his own right. His voice is very strong here and each song benefits greatly from who is singing them. Not every artist has that ability.
On the richly flavored Dreams and Wanna Be Loved, Legend waxes poetic about his perfect love and does so in a style reminiscent of Ordinary People with its bare-bones production mixed with a slightly futuristic edge.
Production values are another of the albums strong points. Featuring a varied and captivating collection of samples, the album is both sonically experimental and interesting to listen to.
Realistically, the album dedicated so much to showcasing its musicianship, it almost undercuts the experience. It is layered and intricate on almost every song but it’s a little bit more mature than most of his listeners may be ready for. At 16 tracks a few of the songs stick around a little longer than they should especially since they are so slow.
There are not very many fun tracks or even an opportunity to dance to this collection of music.
It may very well be treated much like the critically acclaimed but also criticized Once Again. Love in the Future is cohesive and melodic but almost takes itself too seriously to be fully enjoyed as a full unit.
Bottom Line: Aside from a few energetic bright spots, this album is very slow and drags a little in the middle. The voice and talent are undeniable but this album might put a few people to sleep.