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Review: Brian McKnight - 'Evolution of a Man'

Slow & Steady Seduction

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Review: Brian McKnight - 'Evolution of a Man'
If there's one word that sums up Brian McKnight's recording career, it's 'consistent.' If you've heard any of his albums or hit singles, then you know what to expect from him: beautifully sung ballads and mid-tempo tracks that men can relate to and women swoon over. And his latest release, Evolution of a Man, released in the U.S. on Oct. 27, 2009, is no exception. The album may represent an evolution, but that evolution - like Brian's music - is slow and steady. There's no radical changes in his style here, just a few tweaks here and there in order to stay modern and relevant in today's music world.

Incredibly Smooth

The one song that that most obviously departs from Brian's signature style is the album's very first song, "The Brian McKnight Show," which ties in to his morning radio show and syndicated late night TV talk show. The song's unusually uptempo and sunny for a Brian McKnight ditty, and is notable for being the only one of the 14 tracks on the album where he latches onto the Auto-Tune trend that has nearly run it's course. The song is perfect theme music for a TV show or commercial, but not as a featured track on an album, and fortunately it doesn't represent the album as a whole, it just sets the stage for what's to come.

The next track, "JustAlittleBit," (most of the album's songs have non-traditional spellings) is prototypical McKnight - soothing, sexy, seductive and relaxing. The song after that, "Ibetchaneva," is another prototypical seductive McKnight song, one in which he sings about not taking any shortcuts when it comes to making a woman feel good: "There is a right way and a wrong way when you love, it's my duty to live up to the fantasies you been dreamin' of," he croons. It's songs like these that make women want Brian McKnight and men want to be him. Most of the album is so incredibly smooth that it's easy to see why Brian has managed to remain relevant while many - no, make that most - of his contemporaries from the early-to-mid 1990s have long since faded away and been forgotten.

Sophisticated Style

The album's first single, "whatI'vebeenwaiting4," is a great song about true love and devotion, but runs opposite to the album's "evolution" theme, since it sounds like the type of melodramatic tune that Babyface or Toni Braxton, or even Brian himself might have recorded in the mid-1990s: "I don't wanna live without you, can't eat without you ever since I let you in the door, Girl I don't wanna sleep without cha, can't breathe without cha, I think I've found what I've been waitin' for," he sings. One other track, "neversaygoodbye," is also a tad melodramatic, that can be forgiven since it's a wedding song. And a powerful wedding song, at that: "When you walk down the aisle to me, everyone will know that you're more than just a part of me and we will be together forever, we will never say goodbye," he sings.

Evolution's best song, however, is arguably "next2U," a tale of desire and lust that, like all Brian McKnight tunes, manages to be seductive without having to get raw or explicit. This female-friendly tastefulness is another reason why Brian has been able to cultivate and keep such a large fanbase: he's a gentleman who's music you wouldn't be afraid to listen to in certain company. Unlike R. Kelly, who's a great artist, but always manages to take a few songs down into the gutter on each album he puts out, B-Mac always exudes class, taste and sophisticated style, three things the music industry could use more of.

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