Album Review: Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman”

8 Oct

Most super-talented musicians keep the best beats and riffs for their own solo work, and give away the less-than-stellar tracks to other stars.

Luckily for the rest of us, Ne-Yo’s mama taught him how to share.

The incredibly talented songwriter is the man behind hits like Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” and Rihanna’s “Unfaithful,” all while keeping excellent tracks like “Sexy Love” for himself.

On his third CD, “Year of the Gentleman,” Ne-Yo’s memorable beats and haunting lyrics make for a strong, solid album.

“Year of the Gentleman” is much like a concept record on love – there’s the sweet lust of “Closer,” the slinky falling-in-love ditty “Nobody,” the heartbreaking “Fade into the Background.” The lyrics are as heartfelt as you’ll find on any other album released this year.

The first single, “Closer,” is one of the best songs this year. The unusual but catchy beats and sexy lyrics make it stand out above the bland pop on radio today.

“Nobody” follows “Closer,” but the songs are equally awesome. If Michael Jackson was still making music, “Nobody” sounds like something he’d make. The song has a delicious throwback to early Jackson tunes, as well as 70s Motown. Ne-Yo stays in a similar vein for the beautiful, Stevie Wonder-esque “So You Can Cry.”

The feminist lyrics of “Miss Independent” shine – finally, a man giving kudos to an independent woman. “Something about the kinda woman that want you but don’t need you/Hey, I can’t figure it out/It’s something about her,” he sings.

But then there’s the gorgeous sadness in “Fade Into the Background,” as the music matches his mood as he watches The One That Got Away get married.

Ne-Yo named his album “Year of the Gentleman” as a play on the old Rat Pack style; he continues that style in the album artwork and videos. Usually, what an artist wears has little to do with the music, but for Ne-Yo, it’s all apart of a sleek, stylish package that actually seeps into the music. If his dapper duds don’t impress, his sexy songs surely will make any girl melt.

There isn’t even one weak song on Ne-Yo’s new CD. Pick up “Year of the Gentleman” for a strong, solid R&B album.

Four out of five stars.

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