Three years ago, Usher was joyfully walking arm in arm with his girlfriend, TLC's Chilli, promoting his third release, 8701, and happily dissing Sisqo on BET's 106 & Park. Now Sisqo is MIA, and Usher is being called a cheater after his public split with Chilli. Hence what seems to be the inspiration for his fourth full-length, Confessions. The record is on the Lenny Kravitz Mama Said tip, with most of the disc devoted to Usher's failed relationship. The title track, produced by Jermaine Dupri, finds the singer coming clean to his girl about an indiscretion that resulted in a pregnancy. Whether the story is true is debatable (Usher denied it in an interview), but other songs, such as "Burn," "Caught Up" and "Superstar" spin tales of guilt, regret and longing that seem a bit too personal to be fiction.
As it is on most Usher albums, the production on Confessions is top-notch. Jay-Z producer Just Blaze contributes a surefire hit with "Throwback," which rides a Dionne Warwick sample, and hot producer of the moment Lil Jon contributes his talents and his patented "Okay!" and "Yeah!" chants to the hit single "Yeah!" Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis lend their signature sound on "Simple Things" and "That's What It's Made For," while Thicke adds a Maxwell-esque sound to "Can U Handle It?" Overall, Usher shows his growth and maturity not only as a vocalist, but as a songwriter, too. Maybe confessing your sins isn't so bad after all.