The landscape for R&B male singers has been carved by legendary figures such as Smokey Robinson, Ron Isley, Charlie Wilson, and even R. Kelly. Listening to KJon, you cannot help but to hear that influence. Its the merging of raspy tenor with brassy beats. But unfortunately for KJon on his latest piece, Man, his voice rings true but not much else.
A Detroit native, it comes as no surprise that KJon (born Kelvin Johnson) would come from a style that so heavily borrows from the Golden Years of Soul Music. Everything about Man is a reminiscent of soul music through the late 60s and 70s. The first song on the album, Sick and Tired, is almost an interlude that is meant to immerse the audience in an anticipatory mood. In it, Johnson sings about the confines that life has placed on him, and the resilience with which he is fighting those confines through his music. This had the effect of heightening expectations for the music to follow. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is a bit of a letdown.
The first true song, Shake it 4 Me is strong enough. It exudes this playful feel that makes you think of a Friday night in a juke joint. The vibe of the song immediately gives way to Come Get to It, which is an homage to the legendary Marvin Gaye. While the sound is easily identified as Gaye- and for that it can be appreciated- KJon comes off as something like an imitator of Gaye. The tribute lacks a certain je ne sais quoi to make it fully appreciated. Granted, the soulful saxophone interlude towards the end of the song makes for lighthearted two-stepping.
The throw-up All We Need is Love is again another Gaye-esque attempt, this time trying to merge funky beats with social commentary. For that reason, it is enjoyable albeit pedantic. From there, the album just chugs along. No real remarkable notes happen until near the end of the album when Lyfe Jennings makes a guest spot on This Time 4 Real. The record has a plaintive, and remorseful sound, and Lyfes rasp just adds a smoky depth to the song.
Indeed, it is always refreshing to hear R&B music that honors the genres roots. Slowed-down grown-and-sexy numbers complimented by up-tempo grooveable beats are a hallmark of soul music. But in the case of KJon, he does not do much of making this format his own. For that, despite KJons very real vocal talents, the album suffers.
Best Track: This Time 4 Real
KJon- Man Track #9: This Time 4 Real
I Get AroundOn The OceanMan