Avant - Avant

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    He might have burst onto the music scene as "the new voice of ghetto soul," but Myron Avant's body of work over the years has proven him to be more sensual and sweet than suited to the streets. He may be on a new label, having traded Geffen for Capitol this time around, but his self-titled fifth studio CD proves that he's about adding layers to, instead of switching up, that smooth signature sound.

    Long-time followers of the Cleveland-born crooner will find what they expect here: billowy ballads, sultry midtempos and a dash of that expected urban swagger. The infectious opener,"Sensuality," encompasses the first flush of love and attraction, and "Perfect Gentleman" speaks to the effects that a woman's adoration brings to his psyche: "you got this playa 'bout to fall in l-o-v-e." The pulsating "Material Things" confesses that he'd give up all of his bling before losing his lady love, and then there's "Attention," featuring a sly and pimptastic Snoop Dogg riding shotgun as Avant, in one of the CD's most inspired performances, is on a mission to overwhelm his lady with every weapon in his carnal arsenal.

    Like his R&B contemporary Joe, Avant seems to shine brightest when delivering the slow jams: he describes viewing and appreciating the "French Pedicure" as her appendages dig into his back (!!!), while "Out of Character" finds him in the mood for more than the usual ("I want you to go both ways," whatever that entails). His latest hit, "Break Ya Back," ahem, isn't exactly an Ike Turner-esque ode either, if you catch my drift: "Baby it's a fact, when we get up in the sack, I'm gonna break ya back...in a good way." "Y.O.U.," one of his most tenderly-rendered ballads ever, smacks of old-school doo-wop flavor in its quest to worship a woman from head to toe, and "When It Hurts" wonders if the devotion will remain just as fervent when there are disagreements or bumps in the road: "Cuz' there's fantasies and reality: Baby, which one are we living in?"

    As enjoyable as the collection is, would it hurt for Avant to add more heft to his supple tenor or some jagged edges to his silky, synthesized sound? Not at all---except for the unexpected cover of Christopher Cross' 70's hit, "Sailing," there's little to demonstrate that he's in a rush to stretch his capacity as an artist. Avant, while an easy listen for the crib or the ride, simply isn't as essential as it could've been with just a little more experimentation and effort.

    By Melody Charles

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