June 16, 2020 John Legend – Bigger Love (Album Review)
A songbird with the Midas touch, John Legend is set to deliver his first collection of new material in four years, Bigger Love, on Friday, June 19, 2020, via Columbia Records.
What is there that John Legend cannot do and do better than all of us combined? Singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and philanthropist, the 10-time Grammy Award winner is made of gold. One of only 15 people to ever win the coveted ‘award,’ he is the first black man to take home an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). An exceptional talent who has consistently delivered superb music since his 2004 debut album, Get Lifted, Legend has collaborated with an eclectic array of musicians and songwriters, and gone on to release four additional LPs, including 2006’s Once Again and 2013’s Love in the Future.
For the follow-up to 2016’s Darkness and Light and his sixth LP, the multi-talented Legend presents a whopping 16 tracks that are full of love, light, romance, and hope for the future. Working with multiple producers, including OAK (Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara), Gregg Wattenberg (Train, Phillip Phillips), and Pom Pom (The Unlikely Candidates, Leyla Blue), he has created an album that is steeped in his flawless vocal performance and delicate piano work, yet a collection that crosses genres fluidly to pay homage to all that the singer loves—from music to family.
Yesteryear coos to your soul as the album opens with the sensual “Ooh Laa.” Flexing his wings on the track, the vocalist shows his range while keeping it beautifully, respectfully classic but with a subtle modern edge. Next up, the pace of the beat increases for the all too true words of “Actions,” which “speak louder than love songs.” This sets the stage for the smooth bass of “I Do,” an infectious invitation to move your hips, and the Neo-Disco vibes of “One Life,” which continues the party.
The undeniably catchy, clap-along beat of “Wild” is a joyously sensual promise, one that features the talented Gary Clark Jr. But for the titular single, “Bigger Love,” warm island breezes float throughout as Legend confesses, “I don’t want to think about nothin’, the world feels like it’s crumbling.” The perfect track for a seriously troubled 2020, it offers a Reggae sway that will be echoed later on in the collection. But first, singer-songwriter Jhene Aiko comes onboard for the delicate duet “U Move, I Move,” a touching love song.
As the album rolls on, the pace increases for another sultry tease with “Favorite Place,” before Legend puckers his lips for the simmering “Slow Cooker,” a breath of steamy foreplay. Meanwhile, “Focused” parades along with a good-hearted Country feel as Legend’s flawlessly soulful vocals promise his gorgeous wife that she is very much the center of his world. A perfect segue, it rolls out the red carpet for the saccharine sweet “Conversations In the Dark,” made for radio with its delicious earworm qualities that weave a promise to love you for who you are, flaws and all.
But the beat picks up for more Reggae-dusted vibes in “Don’t Walk Away,” featuring the gorgeous vocals of Jamaican singer-songwriter Koffee. Then, featuring another exceptional woman, Rapper Rapsody, “Remember Us” sets a languid and dreamy pace full of reminiscence and Rapsody’s nostalgic rhymes. Challenging himself and working within the upper reaches of his vocal range, Legend croons “I’m Ready,” a track with a golden feel of yesteryear, one that also features Camper. Though, as the collection begins to wind to its grand finale, the pace bumps back up for the first and final love of “Always” before the mood gets intimate yet again. Accompanied by piano, Legend ultimately ends with “Never Break,” an intimate vocal performance that sends the listener off with inspiring proof of his incomparable talents.
Love and light swirl across all that Legend touches, creating a disco ball of delight. Bigger Love is just this: packed full of the exceptional talent, sincerity and authenticity that fans expect from the EGOT winner. At times sultry and, in others, playful and tender, the album paints a story that is made bold through its simple message of love. Certainly the perfect soundtrack for a frisky tumble across the sheets, the LP is also the calming reassurance that 2020 so desperately needs. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Bigger Love 5 of 5 stars.