Brian McKnight: Evolution of a Man

Posted September 15, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

brianmcknight00Balladeer loses some of his edge and steam while trying to pump out a one-man band concept album

The soothing sounds of R&B crooner Brian McKnight cautiously approaches trendy sounds on his Evolution of a Man. The album, full of love ballads and classic R&B teasers, makes a shift towards a more youthful, synth-driven layout (“ibetchaneva,” “next2u” “JustALittleBit”). For the most part, it works well on the veteran crooner, but some of the songs lack the promise of memorability. “Neversaygoodbye” sounds too much like Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” that it’s difficult to take serious. “While” is an obvious tribute to Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” yet it lyrically fails to keep listener’s interest. The biggest surprise surrounds “Imissyou,” which feels like it could easily go in the direction of Irene Cara’s iconic “What a Feeling.” Instead it drifts towards a Ne-Yo-styled cute ballad that ironically fits well on McKnight’s tender vocal approaches. Though the album trots like most of his previous efforts, he does resuscitate the album’s damper mood with the closing piano-only workout of “Another You.” His candlelight performance here is predestined to be another classic in his romantic collection of R&B, pop-styled ballads.

Mysteries surround his decision to put his one-minute theme show from his TV talk show on the disc. And there’s no real understanding why the song’s listing has to look like a mini-glossary taken from the pamphlets of Musiq Soulchild. Maybe it’s an action birth out of a mid-life career crisis. Evolution’s biggest default may be in McKnight’s ongoing challenge of facing predictable balladry and new tricks that stick…and work. His voice is synonymous with innocent love-making and his fans know any risk of detouring into anything pertaining an uptempo, funky soundtrack is too big to accept. But Raphael Saadiq took a slight detour from his fans’ expectations to create the critically-acclaimed The Way I See It. Hopefully Evolution will point us to something new and rewarding for the love guru.



  • Release Date: 27 Oct 2009
  • Label: Hard Work/E1/Koch
  • Producers: Brian McKnight, Regena Ratcliffe, Jane Minovskaya
  • Track Favs: anotheryou, i betchanever, next2you

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

One Comment


    BRYAN can do something like some gospel, ithink it will click

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