[22 October 2013]
To simply state that a lot changes over the course of an 11-year absence would be a gargantuan understatement. Specifically in music, more specifically R&B, the scene just ain’t the same. Trends have come and gone and the genre as a whole currently struggles to find its commercial swagger. Toronto singer/songwriter Glenn Lewis bravely fights past the adversity of the post-neo-soul world, firmly embracing the ‘new order’ without conceding his soulfulness or the influence of the ‘old school’. Moment of Truth proves to be a compelling, traditional R&B album that eschews the gimmickry that too often plagues contemporary R&B albums.
“Time Soon Come” initiates Moment of Truth with classic sounding, contemporary soul production that fails to sound anachronistic. Despite years out of the game, Lewis’ pipes sound nothing short of exceptional throughout the course of this number. Perhaps the bridge could stand a bit more excitability, but ultimately “Time Soon Come” delivers an incredible first impression. “Ugly Face” keeps that impression ‘impressive’, finding Lewis settling capably into this six-eight slow jam and ‘letting it rip’ more vocally. Epitomizing adult contemporary R&B a la 2013, Lewis doesn’t miss a beat sounding smooth and soulful. “When you make that ugly face, you look so sexy…”, he sings on the refrain. Closing out a roaring opening trio, “Random Thoughts” is certainly Lewis’ attempt at technological hipness in a changed world since his 2002 debut: “Hash tag these random things of my heart / I’m in love with you baby…” Oh the things a twitter allusion can do: #Awesome.
“Up & Down” continues the excellence, led by the clarity and command of Lewis’ lead. Richness and depth of vocals highlight the bridge section in particular, sounding incredibly harmonious. The ‘lover man’ vibe continues on with the esteemed promo single “Can’t Say Love”. The pacing is among its strengths, most notably the addition of backing vocals during the second verse. The bridge definitely shines with its power and emotion while the chorus is both catchy and meaningful (“I can’t say love, no not without you / can’t say that word, love / not without you”). A duet with incredibly underrated fellow Toronto native Melanie Fiona unsurprisingly succeeds, with Fiona’s distinct rasp offering a fine contrast to Lewis’ smoother style. The biggest quibble? More vocal interaction between the two simultaneously would’ve packed an even mightier punch.
At this point, Moment of Truth maintains consistency and solidness rather than say broadening itself. “Searching For That One” continues on without a hitch, keeping the grown-folks adult R&B vibe alive and well without a rub. “Closer” remains consistent as well, though lacks a ‘brand new’, innovative spirit. Still, there’s nothing wrong with easy-going, feel-good R&B. While “I Wanna Go Deep” certainly has the bedroom in mind, Lewis does so much more tastefully than many, a testament to his classiness. Adding the ‘cherry on top’ is the singer’s incredible control vocally, even as he ad-libs. “Make Luv” maintains a similar sound to most of the album, proving to be sound but fails to stand out. While “What A Fool Believes” benefits from its brevity, it could use more drive and direction.
“All I See Is You” reinstates more energy about Moment of Truth, standing out amongst the last couple of cuts. Maybe the chorus is ever so schmaltzy, but Lewis certainly feels genuine singing it: “In a sea of faces, there’s so many places / all I, all I , all I see is you.” From there, “Living A Dream” and “Better With Time” close, though with not quite the same swagger that greeted the affair.
Moment of Truth ultimately ends up being a satisfying affair that reintroduces Lewis after all the years elapsed since his debut 11 years ago. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel nor R&B itself, but it does deliver a compelling and pleasant album with no strings attached. Perhaps most noteworthy is how impressive Lewis sounds vocally. Regardless of the quality of the song he sings, he always sounds top notch.