Some of the wisest insights Ive ever received have come from my uncles and older male cousins. Theirs are the stories of men who have lived all aspects of life; from the highs of marriage and fatherhood, good jobs and promotions, to some serious challenges like hustling, serving jail time and the misery of failed relationships. Listening to Lyfe Jennings is akin to any of those socratic, Saturday afternoons with uncles, cousins and old neighbors from around the way. His new album Lucid is a jewel of R&B music, replete with soulful melodies and clever lyrics.
With this latest album, the streetwise prophet offers a commendable body of work. Consisting of mostly ballads, you feel at home listening to this soulful record. While even Lyfe himself comments that he is channeling Marvin Gaye on this one, the album is by no means a bland carbon copy of old school R&B, but instead is very much a living, breathing, neosoul offering. For most of the songs, Lyfe sticks to simple instrumentation. The stirring Rock is indicative of most songs on the album, Lyfes raspy tenor sung over synthesized drums and soft electric guitar licks, with smooth horns playing. Lyfe deploys the synthesizers in his music in a way that sounds organic– noticeably different from most modern R&B which does not shy away from the heavy handed electric songs.
While the sound of this album is well designed, Lyfes insightful lyrics are the more compelling part. As expected from the man who brought such poignant love songs like Must Be Nice and Never Never Land, Lucid offers a fine selection of sweetly provocative, romantic lyrics. Crooning lines like I would bring Michael Jackson back to life to moonwalk to your favorite song…Ill do the impossible for you on College or I dont need to be young to love you with passion on 17 to a Million, Jennnigs provides intense imagery that demonstrates a pure rawness in the way he loves and delivers his music.
When not using his lyrical prowess to create evocative, love numbers, Lyfe employs his skills on other simply sublime numbers that reflect his wisdom. Particularly, the affirming I Am (on which he sings in the background of the chorus) Im beautiful, Im successful, I am worthy of being loved unleashes the healing capacity of Lyfes music. And yet at the same time, he shows his penchant for irony with the blue humor of I Wish. Describing in great detail all the awfulness he wish that would befall an ex-lover, he maintains this zen-like quality to music, which without listening closely, could be mistaken for any other gorgeous, love ballad.
Lucid is a fitting title. This album shows Lyfe at his best- free from distraction and legal issues, left with his gritty voice and simple instruments. This record is thorough, leaving the feeling of a quality R&B album. With all Lyfe has to offer, he should be a standout voice in the neosoul field. His talent to mold words like an avant-garde poet or cutting edge MC while still producing soulful music earns him a great deal of respect. Lucid is a quality showpiece, deserving of serious attention.
Tracks We Like: I Am, College, I Wish
Lyfe Jennings – Lucid Track 1: I Am
Lyfe Jennings – Lucid Track 3: I Wish
Lyfe Jennings – Lucid Track 4: College