With all honesty, Brian McKnight's albums don't always make themselves at home in my personal collection. However, admittedly upon hearing, "Find Myself In You" months back, there was no doubt that whatever collection it appeared on would become part of my treasure chest. That particular song took me away from today's music scene, sending me to a place and time when melodies danced and lyrics painted a colorful picture. Something in his vocals was vaguely reminiscent of a Marvin Gaye classic.
"Ten" represents McKnight's tenth release, which alone is a feat these days. Though McKnight produced a good majority of the songs on this project, clearly working with the production team of Tim & Bob (Bobby Valentino, Deitrick Haddon) on the radio friendly track, "Use To Be My Girl," was a good move. Diction and delivery altered, sounding nothing like what one would typically expect of Brian McKnight, "Use To Be My Girl" soars. Boasting about a lost love to her new beau, McKnight croons that if he wants her, winning her back is no challenge.
Sprinkled with ballads here and there that showcase McKnight's trademark yowl, listeners may assume that he sings from a place that's deeply personal. Perhaps that's the source of his passion on "Shoulda Been Lovin' You" "Holdin' On (Missing You)," and "A Little Too Late". One can almost envision McKnight at the piano, singing his heart out in open space to no one in particular. These ballads have their own flavor while "The Rest of My Life" interestingly fuses pop and heart-wrenching soul over the backdrop of an orchestra.
The album takes a surprising patriotic turn with "Red, White & Blue," on which McKnight teams with country music's Rascal Flatts. The song tells the tale of a soldier away at war, missing his family, and is a great way to let our troops in the Middle East know that they haven't been forgotten by everyone.
"Ten" will more than likely shine for Brian McKnight's diehard fans who support his music without fail; for me, it wasn't chock full of all that I'd hoped for after hearing "Find Myself in You," but it won't be banished to the archives just yet.
by Detrel Howell