Brian McKnight - More than Words (2013)

Brian McKnight
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After putting in almost a quarter century into songwriting, producing, playing instruments and cultivating one of the most skillful voices in contemporary music, there's not much else that can be said about Brian McKnight.  With just a few trills of that tenor or a kiss of that falsetto glide, the 43-year-old can turn otherwise rational women in instant puddles as their men fume with envy; so for his most ardent fans, a new CD from the one-man maestro is already music to the ears. However, what might also be apparent from his twelve effort, More Than Words, is that Mr. McKnight seems dangerously close to spinning his wheels when it comes to his approach and artistry.

After putting in almost a quarter century into songwriting, producing, playing instruments and cultivating one of the most skillful voices in contemporary music, there's not much else that can be said about Brian McKnight.  With just a few trills of that tenor or a kiss of that falsetto glide, the 43-year-old can turn otherwise rational women in instant puddles as their men fume with envy; so for his most ardent fans, a new CD from the one-man maestro is already music to the ears. However, what might also be apparent from his twelve effort, More Than Words, is that Mr. McKnight seems dangerously close to spinning his wheels when it comes to his approach and artistry.

The good news is that there are some worthy gems to be heard within this lengthy set: "Letsomebodyluvu," a glib and guitar-plucking plea for a chance to kick off a romance, is engaged and energizing; "4th Of July" brags about the sparks that are still generating from a lived-in relationship, and "Slow" lavishly describes how much he's anticipating their first time and why it's his most exciting encounter yet: "Can't Look into your eyes cuz' I'll lose it, gotta keep control/if I'm gonna satisfy you Girl I gotta take it show." Another notable track is "Ididntreallymeantoturnyouout," a duet sung with his younger namesake about the perils of being too good at seduction. It might creep some listeners out that Brian Sr. and Brian Jr. are waxing rhapsody over a throbbing jazz jam about "in hindsight, I really should've held back/I blame it on the moonlight, no doubt/I swear on the starlight, I really didn't mean to turn you out," but the song demonstrates that Jr's pipes are just as buttery as Dad's. 

The bad news, if there is such a thing where "B-Knight" is concerned, comes from the performer's insistence at doing no more than what his comfort zone allows, which means that the already-expansive CD drags in places because some songs mimick one another too closely or - even worse - are delivered perfunctorily instead of with passion ("She Doesn't Know," "Livewithoutyou")....unless you're talking about "The Front The Back The Side," another song that might perturb listeners since Brian and his other singing son, Niko, are singing about getting it in with a woman and commanding her to come hither, turn around, lean over and...well, um...you get it.

At 43 years old, Brian McKnight already has a career and legacy that most newcomers can only wish for, but part of staying in the game is knowing when to fall back and replenish for the next round. More Than Words'  Musiq-esque titles, overlywhelmingly 'safe' selections and growing preoccupation with the freaky-deaky seem to signal that McKnight needs to take than a couple of years away in order to preserve his lofty status. That is, unless he doesn't mind further CDs that will force fans to recall an unfortunately-titled cut from this set, "Trying Not To Fall Asleep." Cautiously Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

 

 
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