The way Burrell "Une" Bailey arranges the cuts on his new record, it could be said that the singer and songwriter has made two albums. The first four tunes on the self-titled CD qualify as music for the grown and sexy crowd, while tracks five through eight (I am excluding the remixes and Une's take on the gospel classic "I Won't Complain" that end the album) appear tailor made for the youngsters.
The decision means that Une gets off to a slow start and is ultimately an uneven album because the artist begins the album with the weaker adult contemporary tunes. It's not that Une is musically unable to run with the grown folks. He has a strong assertive voice that reminds me of Freddy Jackson and Glenn Jones. This comes across on the song "One More Time," a slow jam that is the best of the more adult-oriented tunes. This is a good song that combines jazz- influenced melodies with lyrics that express the kind of longing for connection that one would expect from an adult who knows how hard it is to find a good thing. None of the other three adult-oriented songs are nearly as compelling. "One More Time" is just a stronger song lyrically.
Une picks up considerably in album's second half, which begins with the R&B/hip hop fusion jam "Hit Da Show," a ode to that increasingly costly bit of Americana - cruising down the street and checking out the ladies in a tricked out car. Une hits all of the modern urban touch points - the big SUV's with the 26 inch rims, the ultra luxury cars the scene on the streets. The singer is clearly comfortable in this world and that comes across in a musical arrangement that sounds thoroughly modern and complements Une's soft tenor vocal.
Une slows it down on the next track, "Baby Stop Frontin." The tune sees the singer trying to convince a woman to drop the faÃ§ade and realize that the man she is with is not making her happy. The song works for the same reason that "One More Time" works - mainly Une's straightforward, get to the point singing style and lyrics that make an age-old story sound fresh. Une follows "Baby Stop Frontin" with "I Really Love U Love," a bedroom jam and the best song on the album.
Une has some good moments, but those moments come mainly in the second half of the album where the singer comfort level with the "younger" sound is obvious.
By Howard Dukes