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John Legend

Love in the Future

John Legend
5
Love in the Future? Speaking of which, any forthcoming John Legend documentary should be titled The Curious Case of John Stephens. For a musical prodigy that first burst out of the gate with a lively debut album (2004's Get Lifted), Legend has settled into a languid musical stride, one akin to a Las Vegas lounge singer. As one of the initial members of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music imprint, the vivacious soul spark initially exuded by the Ohio-born artist has withered into a commercially boring drone. While he never was a "hip-hop star," as some culturally lazy writers have tagged him, early Legend had some strut, some bite that promised a unique twist on contemporary soul and R&B. However, backed by mature production from West and Dave Tozer, singles like "Made to Love" and "All of Me" typify Legend's current commercially friendly, sentimental sound. A spritely track such as "Who Do We Think We Are?," featuring rapper Rick Ross, moseys along, lacking any resonance. Even a cover of Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes" feels mechanical, rather than a fresh take on a classic. "Tomorrow" and "Wanna Be Loved" are the most intriguing tracks, inducing a few head nods, but today's Legend is content to adopt a croonerific sound that doesn't challenge existing soul genre parameters in the least. That's fine, in theory, but rather yawn-worthy in execution.
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