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Trey Songz - 'Ready'

Mastering the Art

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (3 Reviews)

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Trey Songz has been inconsistent his whole career. Some of his songs, like "Can't Help But Wait," off his second album, Trey Day are compelling, well-sung tracks that properly displaying his considerable singing talent. But for every great song of his, there's weaker tracks like "Wonder Woman," (off Trey Day) and "LOL :)" off his new, third album, Ready, which was released in the U.S. on Aug. 31, 2009. On Ready, Trey continues to straddle the fence between being a horny boy and ladies' man. The bad news is that he hasn't completely mastered the balancing act; but the good news is that this is his best attempt so far.

Putting His Heart Into It

Ready isn't a complete work of art from beginning to end, it's easily the best album of Trey Songz' career so far. Why? One reason is the consistent vocals. On his first two albums, Trey's efforts in the recording booth were sometimes suspect. Listeners can tell when a singer's just going through the motions and on some songs in the past, it sounded like he was simply going through the motions and wasn't giving it his all. But on this album, you can tell that he's actually putting his heart into it, for the most part. Again, the album isn't perfect, but that's mainly due to his limited vocal range and some questionable song arrangements. Questionable song choices have also been one of Trey's past weaknesses, but not this time. Other than the gimmicky "LOL :)" (it's pronounced el-oh-el smileyface), which is an ode to sexual text messages, all the material on the album's pretty solid. Not particularly deep or fresh, but solid. And "LOL" actually deserves creativity points: it's a silly, lighthearted song that's not meant to be taken seriously, but the track - which is aimed at teenage girls and features the rappers Souljah Boy Tell 'Em and Gucci Mane - is also is quite catchy and can become addictive if you listen to it a few times.

Among the album's best material is the R. Kelly-influenced "Neighbors Know My Name," where Trey brags about how the people next door probably know who he his because his woman screams it during sex. "While I be bangin' on your body, they be bangin' on our wall," he sings. "While they be dreamin', you be screamin', now they bangin' on our door."

A Deep Album, Quality-wise

Ready is actually a pretty deep album, quality-wise. None of its 17 tracks are unlistenable, although one of the album's first singles, the mid-tempo ballad "I Need A Girl," is surprisingly sappy and cliche. The song, about being a busy, often-traveling man who's looking for a good woman, sounds insincere compared with all the other rawly sexual (but not vulgar) songs on the album. The song sounds like an attempt to replicate the success of "Can't Help But Wait," Trey's biggest hit so far, but it doesn't come close. But despite that, the weak songs are few and far between. "One Love," a song about staying loyal and true to one's lover puts new energy into an age-old topic; "Black Roses," about a failed relationship, manages to convey sadness, but in an emotionally strong way and without wallowing in misery; and "Yo Side of the Bed," the album's closing track, is a tender, R. Kelly-meets-Prince's Purple Rain-type of love ballad.

So in a nutshell, here's the verdict: if you already like Trey Songz - or love him - then you'll probably be happy with his growth as a singer. And if you haven't liked him up to this point - or don't know him or his music - you might want to give this album a shot, because on it, Trey takes a big step toward establishing himself as an A-list singer. He's still in his mid-20s, but he's got all the tools needed - youth, looks, ability and passion - to become one of R&B's biggest stars by the time he's 30.

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