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Album review: John Legend - Love in the Future

13th September 2013
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Acclaimed singer-songwriter and R&B’s most-loved piano man returns with his first solo album in five years - an ode to romance and sensuality, Love in the Future. His last chart appearance was ‘Wake Up’, a successful 2010 studio album collaboration with one of the finest bands in contemporary funk, The Roots.  In it, Legend covered soulful hits from masters of the field including Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye, designed to stir hope and social awareness in hearts of the nation.

This time round, it appears Legend looks inward for inspiration. ‘Made to Love’, the second single from in ‘Love in the Future’, carried by an infectious, exotic drumbeat and accompanied by the soft but effectual vocal talents of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ songstress, Kimbra. 

As the title implies, this album certainly caters to the lovers out there and those of us who are currently living outside this category  may find this theme slightly nauseating. Sadly, this becomes more prominent towards the end of the album. A few slow-tempo songs like ‘Asylum’ and ‘Caught Up’ seem to suck that vibrancy out of Legend’s charismatic voice that abounded in his first album ‘Get Lifted’, which offered unforgettable tracks like ‘Ordinary People’ and ‘Used To Love You’.

For the most part, Legend sticks to his soulful roots – he croons effortlessly, spurred on by celestial oohs and ahs in ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’ featuring a rap verse from Rick Ross. For this he deserves recognition, in a time when it has become commonplace for a soul or R&B musicians to abandon the genre in the pursuit of greater commercial success. This track affirms Legend’s status as an authentic soul man with a modern twist.

  

Amongst a staggering 16 tracks, it is unfortunate that there aren’t more upbeat floor-fillers like his runaway hit of 2008, ‘Green Light’ featuring Andre 3000. Nonetheless, Legend performs a revitalised version of Bobby Caldwell’s classic ‘Open Your Eyes’ – a rendition which bears likeness to a sample of the same song used in Common’s rap track, The Light (2000). A connoisseur of the R&B ballad (something that has been essential to his albums), Legend offers ‘All of Me’, a piano-led love letter and a classic in the making.

Legend drafts in some of the biggest names in the hip-hop community, many which have contributed to his signature, urban sound. His past collaborators include everyone from Will.i.am to Snoop Dogg and most frequently Kanye West, founder of Legend’s home label G.O.O.D.  

‘Love in the Future’ conveys a fusion of classic R&B and experimental techno-soul: think Kanye-produced Marvin Gaye meets Frank Ocean.

Legend steps away from the piano and plays around with new futuristic sounds whilst inviting us to ruminate on the wonders that are life and love.

Love in the Future is out now.




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