Trey Songz: Passion, Pain & Pleasure

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Posted October 11, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Move over Kells – Trey Songz gets a little mature, consistent and stronger on fourth studio album and is inches away from being R&B’s leading womanizer

When Trey Songz stepped on the stage at the BET Music Awards this year to undress his ballad “In my Bed” before thousands live and to later interject a quick tribute to Prince using “Purple Rain,” he revealed a voice that was too young for the big R&B crooning and a uncontrollable vibrato in need of a full-time tutor. Could it have been the nerves? On the other hand, we have Songz’ albums – where his voice is obviously ironed out and are quite digestible for radio and Trey preys. And this is where Songz excels and plans to continue his chart-topping dominance. With 2008’s Ready still maintaining momentum on the R&B singles’ charts, Songz – a year later – is unveiling his latest full-length studio project (a live EP was released in between sessions). On Pleasure, Pain & Passion, the young heartthrob scores some incredible points for pushing the envelope some by broadening his musical styles, expanding the lyrics and trying on stronger melodies. Songz isn’t intentionally trying to walk away from his young fans but he knows his fans are growing older with him and that means he’s got to try on more mature material.

The first half of the disc, produced mostly by longtime contributor Troy Taylor, finds Songz singing in the familiar. The sexy, lovemaking still works, particularly with “Love Faces” and “Alone,” but “Bottoms Up” – a rare uptempo gem in the mix – gets the party going, with all of its Nicki Minaj crunk juice and club-driven beats. When the second half enters, Songz tries on a relaxed pallette of ballads using R Kelly’s silky soul without falling deep into smut. “Please Return My Call,” destined for R&B radio royalty, allows the young crooner to get in the habit of emotional vocal phrasing akin to soulful icons. The Mario Winans’ contribution “Can’t Be Friends” pushes a solemn sound of production, engaged in aching strings, upon Songz’ emotional pleading. “Red Lipstick” and the 808-and-Heartbreak-inspired “Unfortunate” continues the interesting pace of mature, risky sonics; giving Songz much more machismo. Closing out the album, “Blind” and “You Just Need Me” pumps some Jason Derülo-crossover pop into the equation. All of these efforts gives Songz his best balanced album to date. Loyal fans will probably want more of the sexy, soft porn experiments of Ready, but Songz is growing up and so is his style.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: September 14, 2010
  • Label: Songbook/Atlantic
  • Producers: Troy Taylor, Edrick Miles, John “Sk” McGee, Tha Bizness, Mario Winans, Polow da Don, Patrick Hayes, Mark “The Mogul” Jackson, Noah “40” Shebib, Ezekiel Lewis
  • Track Favs: Can’t Be Friends, Please Return My Call, Bottoms Up, Unfortunate

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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