John Legend — Love in the Future Album Review by Jay Fingers

John Legend — Love in the Future | soulhead

Title: Love in the Future
Artist: John Legend
Label: GOOD Music / Columbia
Genre(s): R&B / Neo-soul
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Social: Website | Facebook | Twitter

John Legend is in love.

The R&B singer-songwriter and GOOD Music signee is set to marry model (and hilarious Twitter pottymouth) Chrissy Teigen in Lake Como, Italy, in October. And in listening to his latest opus, Love in the Future, you can most definitely tell that the idea of everlasting love is on his mind.

The opening lines of “The Beginning” communicate as much: “Last night is the last night you’ll ever spend alone,” he tells his beloved. He then follows up with a slightly raunchy line that is as funny as it is honest. Sex is certainly a key component here, but it’s not just about the sex. He wants to have children, raise a family. Do this romance thing the right way. “It’s the beginning of forever,” he sings in his characteristically pristine, golden voice over lush, piano keys and vertebrae snapping drums.

Legend’s voice echoes and reverberates on the experimental single “Made to Love,” which features sublime background vocals from New Zealand pop artist Kimbra. Another guest, the teflon don Rick Ross, drops a few bars on the extravagant “Who Do We Think We Are,” which harkens back to psychedelic soul and boasts hard-hitting drums and a super creative sample of Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff.” Ohhh, yeah.

The moody, almost sinister “Asylum” has a prog rock vibe thanks to its guitar licks and atmospheric keys. On the other end of the spectrum is the beautiful simplicity of straightforward piano ballad “All of Me.” Legend delivers on a couple of solid covers: Bobby Caldwell’s classic “Open Your Eyes,” and the much-too-short interpretation of Anita Baker’s “Angel,” featuring the dreamy vocals of Stacy Barthe. And the sexy, seductive “Caught Up” finds Legend telling his lady that, after a hard day at the office, all he wants is to “get caught up in [her] love tonight.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is grown and sexy.

Album production is, as to be expected, top notch. While it can seem, at times, clinical at times, Future achieves a perfect balance of warm, soulful performances with the precision of digital programming. Working with a hit squad of knob turners and studio geniuses that include Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Q-Tip, Dave Tozer, Bink!, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Hit-Boy, 88 Keys, and The Runners, Legend has crafted a disc that, while thoroughly modern in sound and vibe, feels and sounds timeless.

If there is a qualm about Love in the Future, it’s that the album, at 20 tracks long, is slightly overstuffed. He could have excised a few tracks, maybe save them for a future project; but still, this is a minor complaint for an album simultaneously traditional and forward-thinking in its approach.

Love in the Future is a great R&B album, one that looks at a relationship from all angles, examining the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. Given the exceptional quality of this album, and the upcoming nuptials to Ms. Teigen, one thing is certain—the future definitely holds great things for Legend.

Grade: A

Best Tracks:

“Made to Love”

“Who Do We Think We Are” (featuring Rick Ross)

“Caught Up”

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuB6F6kb3_8

“Asylum”

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJvqwXCIac0

 

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