Justin Timberlake and producer Timberland are the Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones combination of the 21st Century. Multi-layered background vocals add weight to Timberlake's high-pitched singing on "My Love," a Timberland-laced gem that incorporates 70's soul, disco and 80's techno music into one unique sound. This and many blends like it are the abnormal norm on Timberlake's superb sophomore album. Ones could easily see Austin Powers dancing to the flamboyant flair of "Damn Girl," a track that could be retro British disco or modern San Fran house. "Until The End of Time" reminds of Prince and Maxwell, showcasing the depth of Timberlake's musical influences transformed into a mind of his own. The songwriting here is also in line for greatness, as proven on "(Another Song) All Over Again," the album's emotional closing number. Moody, lovely and very sexy, this album should inspire ones love-fueled passions tonight, and well into the future.
Remember the time when groups like SWV, Sista and En Vouge could actually sing? R&B quartet Cherish won't remind ones of those times. Carried by 808 bass-driven production ("Do It To It,") that is so common with today's singing groups, Cherish uses catchy hooks and simplistic harmonies ("Show And Tell") to carry their weakly written songs – like on "Chevy" where they encourage their male pursuers to treat them like their prized vehicle. With production from Don Vito, among other greats, the beats do bang. It's the content, though, which leaves little to appreciate.
Fergie got the chance of lifetime when she was asked to join The Black Eyed Peas, adding yet another level to the established trios creative joints and jams. After two smoking hot albums of doing the group thing, Fergie goes it alone, on this, her solo debut. Fergie's voice is as smooth as silk linens. Opting to sing over her usually rhythmic-talking makes her place in Pop and R&B more valid. The problem here is that her vocal arrangements are not always original; Fergie too often reminds of Pink, N'Dea Davenport or a less-than-powerful Christina Aguilera. Current single "London Bridge" was better when it was "Holla Back Girl," yet the moving "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Finally" and "Loosing My Ground" won't have ones complaining too much about purchasing a knock-off.
"So So Gangsta"
A throwback to mid-90's gangsta rap, Daz's first solo project for Jermain Dupri's So So Def Entertainment is a new taste of nothing new. On "Money On Mind," Daz teams with his Dogg Pound partner Kurupt on a dark, heavy-bass-riddled west track that reminds of Dr. Dre during the Death Row era. "Dangerous" tough-talks over slamming piano keys, "DPG Fo Life" quickens the pace and lightens the mood with high-energy banging. Aside from a few pointless skits and song preludes, Gangsta is a welcomed blast from the past. The Dupri-produced "Badder Than A Mutha" featuring Anthony Hamilton is one for the ages.
Mail press and album review material to - Joe Walker, PO Box 1375, East Lansing, MI 48826-1375, 517-914-6976.