Music News

John Legend

Some of soul's finest performers specialize in cutting loose; their vocals roar with authority. But just as many of the genre's talents focus on control, synthesizing their emotions into a smooth confection that makes everything from infidelity to heartbreak taste as sweet as sorbet. John Legend falls into the second category, and if Once Again seems modest on first listen, it ultimately proves that sophisticated reserve can be just as powerful as chest-thumping rawness.

The ubiquitous has indulged in cheesy over-sampling of late (e.g., Fergie's solo debut), but his touch is blessedly light on "Save Room," in which he and Legend effortlessly alter the forecast of "Stormy," a Classics IV oldie. "Heaven," produced by Kanye West, and "Maxine," a luxuriant samba, are just as strong. Granted, "Again" feels too much like "Ordinary People" redux, and "Coming Home" doesn't quite hit the "What's Going On" heights for which it's clearly aiming. They don't miss by much, though, and as long as "Each Day Gets Better" is spinning, its title rings true.

Play it Again.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts