John Legend Love in the Future

John LegendLove in the Future
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. (Sony)