On his debut seven-song EP, Love and Stadiums II, which was released in the U.S. Dec. 6, 2011, the R&B-pop singer known as Mateo showcases some of the talent that led to him becoming a protege of Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, the producer who's best known for his work with Alicia Keys on her first two albums. Mateo is no Alicia Keys, but the man definitely has a knack for intelligent, expressive singing. Love and Stadiums, which is the follow-up to his free mixtape of the same name, is a brisk, pleasant listen. Mateo, a Cincinnati, Ohio native who now lives in Los Angeles, is still an under-the-radar artist, but with songs like these and a little more seasoning, he's liable to break into the mainstream eventually.
If you're one of the lucky people who's already heard Iman "Mateo" Jordan's free Love & Stadiums mixtape
, which dropped online back in March 2011, some of the songs on this EP will sound familiar, particularly "Don't Shoot Me Down," an excellently moody track about how love can be confusing and sometimes cruel. The song, which is one of the best singles of 2011, also features the rapper Ab Liva, but is probably most noteworthy for a nimble, honey-dipped vocal performance by alternative R&B singer Goapele
. Three other songs from the mixtape also appear on the EP, a melancholy track called "Doubt;" a dance remix of his song "Get to Know Me;" and "In Your Arms Tonight,"
a remake of the '80s pop hit "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight."
Of the previously unreleased material, the songs are good, but none achieve true greatness. The opening track, "Say It's So,"
tries to soar as a pop song, but never quite manages to fly high, despite appearances by Alicia Keys
and her husband, producer-rapper Swizz Beatz, on background vocals. "Say It's So," like another song on the EP, "Fool For You," is solid in the lyrical and production departments, but lacks distinctiveness and stand-out originality.
In fact, the remix of "Fool For You,"
which features singer Dawn Richard (of Diddy-Dirty Money and Danity Kane fame) is much more interesting to listen to. Another song, the aforementioned "Doubt," is more than solid lyrically, but held back by a disappointingly bland vocal performance.
If all the songs here were as creative and distinctive as "Don't Shoot Me Down," this would be a four-star release. But the truth for music fans is that the best thing to do might be to download Mateo's free mixtape, which is still available on his website, listen to it a few times, then make a decision from there on if you'd like to shell out the money for his Love & Stadiums II