John Legend: Love in the Future

Posted September 17, 2013 by in r&b



3/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Label: ,
Genre: R&B, soul, neo-soul
Producer: 88-Keys, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Bink!, Boogz, David L. Anderson II, Dave Tozer, Doc McKinney, Da Internz, Darhyl Camper, Hit-Boy, John Legend, Jon David Anderson, Kanye West, Ken Lewis, Malay, Mark Williams, Nana Kwabena, The Runners, The Twilite Tone, Q-Tip, Jeff Bhasker, Travis Scott, Pharrell Williams
Label: GOOD, Columbia
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 49:03
Release Date: 30 August 2013
Spin This: "Wo Do We Think We Are," "All of Me," "Save the Night"


Bits of soul, good crooning, nostalgia-meet-Drake becomes the paintbrush for Legend's ride into the future


Very few radio knockouts and not all that innovative; "Angel," one of the album's highlights, sadly shortened into a interlude

Legend’s trip into the future sounds like more of the past

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Legend’s trip into the future sounds like more of the past

Go ahead and peg him the Donny Hathaway of our generation; John Legend is a piano guy with a sizable set of highly distinguishable soulful pipes. Four solo albums in, the silky soul singer with a subliminal hip-hop chi has been trying to prove he’s hard enough to compete with the Top 40 hipsters. Even with Kanye West coming to the rescue to produce one or two album tracks, it’s been a bit of a struggle, for the most part for his music to connect with the mainstream. His last effort slipped through the cracks with much of the blame on his attempt at trying so hard to rebrand his style, as if being the piano player wasn’t enough. But thanks to the colossal success of Brit soul Adele and emo-soul rapper Drake in his rear mirror, Legend has a new blueprint: Doing the risky by channeling both crafts into one solid album. From a bird’s eye view, Love in the Future is propped up to be his love album, his Let’s Get It On, his I Want You. When it plays, you start to wonder if the wacky world of Futurama could fit into this playground. To be frank, it really doesn’t. Giorgio Moroder prophesied that the sound of the future is the synthesizer. Sure, the piano isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but much of the album is richly soaked in baby grand tantrums. “Made to Love,” the furthest jump into the world of later, uses some of the euphoric glow of elongated synth chords, setting up the mood like an Art of Noise slow jam. Then the sounds of sweat shop steel mill action and guest vocalist Kimbra saturates the aura of the room. There’s lots of paranoiac suspense there, but the repetitive nature of the sing-a-long chorus sucks much of the excitement out of the track. As a lead single, it’s his most ambitious to hit radio. But consider it only the prelude to better things.  He get his groove back by melodically playing the Elton John card on select tracks (“All of Me,” Hold On Longer”), even if they feel subpar to “Ordinary People.” The album’s spotlight should be on “Who Do We Think We Are,” a Rick Ross-guested Quiet Storm number that cleverly merges the “oh-oh-yeah” chants of Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” with the kaleidoscope vision of Isaac Hayes’s “The Look of Love.” It’s a retro-feeling masterpiece that any hardcore emcee would be anxious to spit some rhymes on. “Save the Night,” patched up with retro furnishing and vinyl-like playability, sounds like a throwback to Legend’s old school soul on 2006’s Once Again. The only other moment the album finds its made-for-radio moment is when he drafts a quick Anita Baker rehash of “Angel.” The tune is perfectly subdued to Legend’s style of crooning using a Jill Scott-esque neo-soul gloss, but it slips away after its one-minute and twenty-five seconds wraps up. “We Loved It,” a bonus track offering featuring a charming duet with the more gutsy Seal, also catches the ear. But it is apparent that Legend isn’t seriously looking into the future. If anything, he’s simply rebranding what he normally does as being the sound of the future. And by that definition, Love in the Future is marching to the wrong beat. You come into the album looking for something gloriously epic and multi-dimensional, and you’re only teased with more of the same. Although it’s not a bad rehash; it’s not the trendsetting canvas of futuristic R&B that it should have been.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response


Please support HIFI Magazine
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better