On his latest studio album, Just Me
, Brian McKnight
tries his best not to fall victim to a problem that affects many veteran artists over time; finding new ways to keep his sound fresh while at the same time singing about the same ol' things that have been sung about over and over. To his credit, B. Mac branches out of his musical comfort zone on a few tracks and experiments with sounds we're not used to regularly hearing on his albums, like heavy guitars and synthesizers. And his vocal skills are still intact. But despite this Just Me
, which was released as a CD/DVD on July 12, 2011 in the U.S., is pretty bland.
Going Through Motions
The problem with the all-new CD portion of Brian McKnight
's Just Me
CD/DVD is a distinctive lack of urgency or immediacy to most songs, despite his having a voice that's still pure enough to keep him in the top tier of male R&B singers, above about 95 percent of the other vocalists out there. Another problem is creativity, at least for the most part. There's only a handful of songs that are quality listening, primarily the lead track, "Temptation," which sounds so much like classic Marvin Gaye that it couldn't possibly be a coincidence. Unfortunately, B. Mac too often sounds like he's lost his edge. His vocals are slightly lazy, like those of a man who has nothing to prove; too often it sounds like he's just going through the motions.
The other problem is that Just Me doesn't have any songs that push the album over the top quality-wise. Although "Temptation" sets things off well, none of the tracks after it can compare. There are a few other good songs, like an unusual smooth Jazz remake of George Michael's 1984 hit "Careless Whisper" and the melancholy title track, which bears similarities to Frank Sinatra's "My Way." But the majority of the 10 songs here are disposable, even the first single, "Fall 5.0." If this same album were sung by a lesser vocalist, it would probably rate just three stars, but to his credit, McKnight's nuanced vocals are enough to power Just Me to a slightly better rating. Make no mistake, though: this is an album only for his legion of devotees; there's not enough great material here to please the casual listener.