K'Jon - Man

K'Jon
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Surface vs. substance, trends vs. timelessness: it can be a very taut tightrope that today's performers have to navigate, and in some cases, the original sound they once fought hard to nurture and maintain becomes a casualty in that process. Few things are more disappointing to hear than musicians who gradually replace authenticity for ambition, but K'Jon's fans don't have to worry about that particular malady, given that he pays deft homage to classic soul with just enough contemporary touches on his fifth studio CD, Man.  

Surface vs. substance, trends vs. timelessness: it can be a very taut tightrope that today's performers have to navigate, and in some cases, the original sound they once fought hard to nurture and maintain becomes a casualty in that process. Few things are more disappointing to hear than musicians who gradually replace authenticity for ambition, but K'Jon's fans don't have to worry about that particular malady, given that he pays deft homage to classic soul with just enough contemporary touches on his fifth studio CD, Man.  

Maturing as a person and professional, K'Jon knows that one can only sing about the J-O-B, V-I-P and the B-E-D so many times, so Man is flush with songs about reflections, resolutions and yes, even a little revolution: the title track finds his throaty vocals at their most limber, a doo-wop-flavored reminiscent take on how the world will never outgrow the need for divine intervention. "Marathon" is another contemplative standout, unmasking K'Jon's vulnerability and strength as he croons liltingly of devotion no matter what---"Life is about survival, fighting til the end/ain't no time to give up, and quitters never win. Time keeps on slippin', I'ma sleep when I'm gone/I just wanna run forever, life is one big marathon."


Don't let the black suit and solemn expression on the CD cover fool you though. K'Jon gets his early Motown-era loverman on the finger-snapping, swagger-brimming "Tic Toc" and is practically glib on the lush, disco-esque Barry White-recalling jam, "Winter Spring Summer Fall," as he sings of a love that will outlast all seasons and is"guaranTEED." "Shake It 4 Me" interpolates a well-known Zapp refrain into its playful hook, and with another intriguing mix of 'something old, something new,' 2009's "This Time" gets rejuvenated by way of Lyfe Jennings and becomes "This Time 4 Real," a heart-melting soliloquy that intertwines their vocals flawlessly as they sing of cherishing a second chance, righting the wrongs and doing what's required to make it last: "This time, I'll be there for you, say a prayer for you/This time I'm gonna open up, show you love."


Man isn't the first time that an R&B artist has delved into the playbooks of the past to share their vision about the future, but K'Jon does it so suavely and self-assuredly that the point hardly matters.  "Come Get To This (Marvin Gaye Dedication)" doesn't try to imitate the icon, for example, but it does recall the sly sensuality that the great performer injected into his grooves, as does "All We Need Is Love," which is definitely more Marvin than Beatles with its message of urban unity and anti-violence: "We cry out 'injustice' for Trayvon's family, we gotta rise above this/ or we'll lose our insanity."


Despite the obvious reach into the golden era of soul, K'Jon's newest CD will take the listener farther than 2012's solid, yet somber Movin' On did and with less of the trendy gimmicks in place. Man is like running into an old buddy from back in the day and finding him more polished, more purposeful and with a little extra pep in his step: whatever he's lucked into, you're happy to witness the transformation and can't wait to hear all about it. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles
 
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