Music

Jaheim: Another Round

Another Round features some of the best songs that Jaheim has ever sung -- and he nails them all.


Jaheim

Another Round

Label: Atlantic
US Release Date: 2010-02-09
UK Release Date: 2010-02-09
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

The first thing you notice about Jaheim's new album, Another Round, is its cover photo: the singer and the mic.

This cover is no accident. Jaheim is a singer's singer, something that the industry seems unwilling to support in the same way it has in the past. Jaheim isn't the best singer of his generation, but he's pretty much the only one of his contemporaries still consistently recording, though to diminishing sales. So the cover, though probably intended to be somber, actually strikes one as defiant. As if Jaheim is defying you to doubt his voice.

Good then that this is easily Jaheim's finest, most cohesive work. What one notices first is that his stable of writers -- including Naughty By Nature's KayGee, Carvin and Ivan, Clifton Lightly, and others -- is more in tune with Jaheim's expressive gifts, so they give him melodies that allow him to let the notes breathe.

Jaheim himself just seems at ease with the material, in stark contrast to his almost arrogant persona early in his career. Perhaps it's because he co-wrote many of the songs, so they have that personal touch that he needs to connect to the material. Perhaps it's maturity. Perhaps it's that so much of Another Round explores a kind of humility that comes after you have experienced great loss and emerge with greater perspective. Doesn’t matter -- he just sounds terrific.

Take second single, "Finding My Way Back", where Jaheim expertly dissects devastation at love lost. The lyricism here is the strongest on the album ("Caught a love wave / Rode it then I wiped out / Two ships just passing in the night now / Offshore, looking for a light house"), but more than the words what you hear is how expertly Jaheim holds key notes just a split second too long to express longing. Or listen to him take it to church on "Till It Happens to You", a gospel song of faith with just the right amount of melisma. It's astonishing just how much Jaheim does with so little. There's definitely the fire of gospel in his phrasing, but it is burns slow. Or listen to how he gets his Ray Charles on with the background vocalists on "Her", interacting with them in that classic Charles call-and-response style that gives Jaheim the opportunity to unleash his passionate side.

However, good as these three songs are, "In My Hands" stands head and shoulders above them. The song itself is a piano love ballad that walks a finely modulated balance between sentiment and emotion. It's the kind of song that if a progression or two were done differently would have wound up a maudlin power ballad. But luckily Jaheim brought his A-game. Here his debt to Luther Vandross is startlingly apparent, and yet it never feels like an imitation. It is simply the finest, most precise -- yet devastatingly emotional -- singing that Jaheim has done to date.

Jaheim does stumble in a few places. "II Pink Lines" is undone by a silly, albeit earnest, conceit. "Closer" fares a little better even though its sexual conceit is clumsy in execution, and the title track's cacophonous production, messy vocal treatment, and terrible lyrics earn it the distinction of being the worst song on the album. But without question, Jaheim has made the best album of his career. It's the album that fans of singers of Jaheim's caliber have known he had in him and have been waiting for her. And what's really sweet about this is that Jaheim did it with some great soul singing and songwriting. This is not an adult contemporary album with cheap pop balladry designed to show off the fact that Jaheim is blessed with one of the best voices of his generation.

Most importantly, while it does recall the best of Teddy Pendergrass, James Ingram, and Luther Vandross, you never get the sense that Another Round is anything less than a Jaheim album. And that is saying something.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image