It seems like just yesterday we were geeked about the new video for “Ordinary People” directed by Kanye West. Or not long ago that “Save Room” from his sophomore CD was the new hotness. And chances are, when we hear those tracks in years to come they will evoke that same kind of timeless appreciation. As is the case with this latest collection of songs on Evolver, the third installment from singer/songwriter John Legend.
Attempting to live up to it’s lofty title, the lead single “Greenlight” (see video below) featuring OutKast rapper, Andre 3000 is an escape from Legend’s comfort zone of adult contemporary music. Though the pairing is a bit of a mismatch the song is probably one of his most radio friendly tunes in a while. Falling into that very same category are “Quickly” featuring Brandy,”Cross The Line” and “No Other Love” featuring Estelle, each standing as a proverbial loosening of the tie for Legend with their heavily drummed and synthesized arrangements. Re: evolution.
Although Legend’s piano isn’t as ever present as in previous projects, he is at his best when he dwells in the realm in which this CD was suppose to be a departure from. Songs like “If You’re Out There” and “Everybody Knows” represent Legend in his classic form and are the gems of the entire project.
What remains consistent with Legend as he experiences this evolution is his voice. Throughout Evolver, his voice is strong and full, never wavering or attempting notes it cannot own, even in falsetto (“I Love, You Love”).
All in all, we suggest you don’t take our word for it. We’re biased. We’ve always had a preference for music that we could run on repeat from early afternoon until the after party.
Our personal favorite is “It’s Over” featuring Kanye West and that damn vocoder. — KEVIN R. SCOTT