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John Legend

Love in the Future

(Sony; US: 3 Sep 2013; UK: 2 Sep 2013)

There are few names bigger than John Legend when it comes to R&B. Whether it be a panty-wetting paean of his own or an appearance to provide a soulful hook to a Kanye song, John Legend is going to grab your attention. So how is it that there has been such little buzz in the five years it’s been since his last solo album? Legend may have a better handle on staying out of the news than most of his peers. He’s also better at his job than most. Although it may have taken a while, Love in the Future is worth the wait.

It’s easy to see that a lot of care went into the making of this album. Legend collaborated with many different writers and producers, including executive producer Kanye West, to concoct a sound that is extravagant without feeling over the top. There’s hardly a wasted moment to be found on this album. The instrumentation of strings, percussion, and of course, piano, works throughout the record as a great complement to Legend’s sui generis vocals.

While some R&B singers can get by on the strength of their voices alone, Legend puts in the extra effort to stand out. He knows how to play to his strengths, and on this album in particular he is really able to reel it in. These songs are carefully crafted exclusively to his fitting, and no one else could satisfy as a substitute. Even a cover of Bobby Caldwell’s classic “Open Your Eyes” sounds like it was originally meant for John Legend. He performs with so much soul and passion that it really is moving.

Love in the Future is focused and consistent. Legend hits the sweet spot and sticks mostly to what works for him, which is love ballads. One thing that separates John Legend from the average R&B crooner is his ability to appeal to listeners who wouldn’t normally find themselves checking into the genre. His experimentation with different sounds and styles makes his work accessible to just about any fan of music. There’s hardly any filler on Love in the Future. It’s just packed with 16 quality tracks.

The deluxe edition comes with four additional songs. These bonus songs are great for hardcore Legend fans who simply can’t get enough of him. However, they aren’t essential to the Love in the Future listening experience by any means. The songs are solid, but there is a drop in quality from the great songs such as “The Beginning” or “You & I (Nobody In The World)” compared with the somewhat forgettable “We Loved It”. If you just want the best of the best, the standard album will be fine for you.

John Legend captures the intimacy of the R&B genre without sacrificing the core music, which keeps it interesting for everyone. Whether you’ve fallen victim to cuffing season or you’re simply looking for some good music, Love in the Future can be your album. One could even make a very strong case for Love in the Future being Legend’s best album to date.


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