On J. Holiday
's 2007 debut album, Back of My 'Lac
, he had a few not-so-pleasant topics on his mind, like inner-city violence, being abandoned by his father and loneliness. But on his second album, appropriately titled Round 2
and released in the U.S. on March 10, 2009, Holiday seems to be in a much better place emotionally. And his well-being stands out on the album, which is essentially a collection of romantic ballads, some similar to his 2007 breakout single, "Bed." Round 2
is a well-sung, well-written, well-produced album, but the one negative is that it's a little bland and leans too much on love songs.
There's the usual songs that strive for romantic emotionalism, like the please-don't-leave-me song "Don't Go," the player-in-love song "Fall" and various PG-rated mid-tempo for-lovers tracks, like "Run Into My Arms," "Sing 2 U" and "Forever Ain't Enough." The best of these is the album's first single, "It's Yours,"
where over skittering, anxious backing music, Holiday tenderly professes his love: "Grab my body baby, hold my heart don't break it - it is yours," he sings. It's one of the few songs on the album where he experiments vocally, and his voice rides the kinetic beat like a horse. And the song "Make That Sound," with it's thumping beat and sexy tone, is a great lovemaking anthem. But that same magic isn't apparent on a number of tracks, and Holiday sometimes sounds like he's just going through the motions and singing not what's in his heart, but what he (and his record company) thinks people want to hear.
An example of a half-hearted song is the Rick Ross collaboration "Wrong Lover," on which the honey-voiced Holiday muses 'repossessing' a woman he thinks ended up with the wrong guy. Holiday himself sounds okay, but Ross an ex-prison guard turned crack rapper, is out of his element here. And speaking of being out-of-element, "Homeless," the 12th of the album's 13 songs, has an excellent message about helping those less fortunate. The lyrics are top-notch, as is the song's production. Judged alone, it's definitely one of the album's best tracks. The only problem: as a 'message' song, it sticks out like a sore thumb here and doesn't fit the album's overall context.