Javier Colon - Left of Center (2006)

Javier Colon
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Apparently somebody decided Javier's debut album was too spiritual or too vulnerable or too something else that isn't consistent with the "lover man" image that dominates modern R&B.  Granted, the disc had a pop sheen and a certain innocence to it that probably limited its success on urban radio.  But to its credit, it was a nice display of a talented young singer who appeared to have something to say.  But apparently that wasn't enough, so what we get now is Left of Center, a dumbed down, sexed up sophomore effort that is calculatingly aimed at the audience that can't get enough Usher, Bobby Valentino and Chris Brown.  Well, I guess we can put away those Donny Hathaway comparisons...

Apparently somebody decided Javier's debut album was too spiritual or too vulnerable or too something else that isn't consistent with the "lover man" image that dominates modern R&B.  Granted, the disc had a pop sheen and a certain innocence to it that probably limited its success on urban radio.  But to its credit, it was a nice display of a talented young singer who appeared to have something to say.  But apparently that wasn't enough, so what we get now is Left of Center, a dumbed down, sexed up sophomore effort that is calculatingly aimed at the audience that can't get enough Usher, Bobby Valentino and Chris Brown.  Well, I guess we can put away those Donny Hathaway comparisons...

The tunes are definitely hotter on the new disc, and there are genuinely memorable cuts such as the opener, "You're the One," and the excellent Anthony Hamilton duet, "Count On Me."  And the disc's second single, "The Answer Is Yes," has a pop charm as strong as 2003's "Crazy."  However, Left of Center is so premeditated in its approach that it sounds like it was put together by focus groups of urban radio program directors.  Javier remains an extremely talented vocalist, so much so that he can almost rescue such lyrical nonsense as "Once We Start," "Ways I'm Feeling U" and "Dance For Me."  But his vocal talent isn't enough to salvage Left of Center.   Ironically, the disc wouldn't be such a disappointment if it were released by a lesser talent.  But its trite sexual pandering is particularly depressing when it is the product of an artist who seemed to have much, much more to offer.

By Chris Rizik

 

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