Raw, yet romantic, with a propensity to intertwine hip-hop-inspired cadences over melodic beats, the Atlanta-based quartet known as Jagged Edge has enjoyed consistent radio rotation and multiple chart appearances for over a decade ("Promise," "Where the Party At," "Walked Outta Heaven," etc.). While some of their peers broke up, burned out or fell off, JE maintained the status quo, tweaking their style with a cameo here and there, but never failing to deliver what their fans so obviously enjoy: sincere, yet swagger-filled soul.
Thirteen years, four labels and six CDs later, JE has returned with The Remedy, their seventh studio CD and the first as a release from the combined efforts of the Slip-N-Slide label and their imprint, Five 81 Records. Member Kyle Norman may describe The Remedy as “a new birth,” but with the exception of a couple of new board controllers (Cool & Dre, Gorilla Tek, Adam Ledgister and Jim Jonsin) and the inclusion of rapper Rick Ross, the group's signature sound really hasn’t changed….which, actually, is a good thing, since it’s certain that their circa 1998 Jagged Era followers don’t want to hear a watered down, Auto-Tuned, Nicki Minaj-featured version of the guys anyway.
As expected, woman-worshipping slow jams (all co-penned by the Casey twins) dominate: a love that besots a brother from head to toe is described in “Flows Through My Veins;” “Baby” combines a Jodeci-recalling catch-phrase and Surface’s 1987 smash “Happy” in a gooey ode to a woman who’s so perfect that she must have descended from on high (“Are you really really human, tell me where you come from, Shorty you can’t be for real/Must be an angel, sent from heaven just for me, to teach me how to love for real"). Cool & Dre’s production adds layers of lusciousness to the Seduction 101 track, “Lay You Down,” and the billowy harmonies in “Mr. Wrong” make it clear to all who listen that they’re pledging to be everything but.
As for the danceable moments, JE has a few to offer. “Lipstick” could’ve been a raunchfest, but Rick Ross’s bragging doesn’t diminish the fun to be had as the group describes a night on the town and the sexy sister who’s making all the right moves and showing off the right….well, accessories: “Her lipstick’s red, high heels on, turning me and everybody in the spot on/Lipstick’s red, stripper shoes on….I can’t wait to get you home.” “My Girl” isn’t a Temptations cover, but a lively description of a woman who plucked a player out of the VIP lounges and now has him anxious, but ready to bum-rush the nearest jewelry store all the same.
A couple of selections interrupt the seamlessness because of their languid execution (“I Need a Woman”), murky narratives (“Space Ship”----are they trying to leave the planet or does love have them in orbit?) or, quite frankly, subject matter that sounds downright trifling when the performers are knocking on 40 (i.e., offering up drive-by 'a la carte' sex services in “Love On You,” ugh). However, if it’s been an anxious three and a half years for you since their last CD, 2007’s Baby Makin’ Project, and you’re ready to immerse yourself in some straight-forward, yet sweet and satisfying R&B, then yes, please believe that Jagged Edge can cure those cravings with The Remedy. Recommended.