CD Review: NeYo

Year of the Gentleman

By Taylor Toothman |

I’ve never been much of an R&B fan. Usher can keep his “Confessions” and Chris Brown can keep on writing songs about “Forever” that are interchangeable as hit singles and gum commercial ditties. But Ne-Yo can croon me ’til the cows come home.

And I don’t have cows, so I guess that means forever.

His new album, Year of the Gentleman, is one of the most grabbing hours of music ever to grace my ear canal. Expanding from his previous two albums, Ne-Yo has produced a set of 13 unique songs that are certain to solidify his prominence in the R&B world.

I first heard and saw “Miss Independent” on a mall TV turned to BET, and I was immediately drawn in. When I close my eyes I imagine a flurry of flashing black-lights and lots of United Colors of Benetton models jumping and posing to the beat. The lyrics are a well-deserved shout-out to all the ladies who “move like a boss/do what a boss do.” It’s nice to know some guys appreciate a girl who has the power to fire them.

In the hit single “Closer,” Ne-Yo is having trouble breaking away from an attractive lady in a club. “She’s the sweetest taste of sin/the more I get the more I want/she wants to own me/she says come closer” is the general outline, and when he says “I just can’t stop” he sure means it; he repeats the phrase 52 times. Repetitive, but enjoyable.

“Single” features lyrics like “I’ll be your boyfriend for the next few minutes” and “just pretend that I’m your man tonight” set to a lovely mesh of “whoas” and slow-jam techno. Somebody hit replay.
Now I know what they’re talking about when they compare Ne-Yo to Michael Jackson. Listen to the beat, weaving piano and harmonizing backing vocals of “Stop the World” and tell me if it doesn’t throw you back to “Free Willy” and Jackson’s “Will You Be There.”

“Why Does She Stay?” is the one obligatory annoying track. He sings about being lazy and selfish, while spacey lasers sway in and out, and every two beats there’s a weird distant bang/clap that throws my attention off Ne-Yo’s sultry self-deprecation. I skip over it except whenever I want to pretend I’m in an interplanetary cocktail lounge.

The rest of Ne-Yo’s Year is bouncing with love for ladies, life and music. Thoroughly recommended.

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