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ALBUM REVIEW: Ne-Yo – Year of the Gentleman

For the third time in as many years, one of the industry’s most consistent hit-makers takes a break from putting everyone else on the charts to provide us with an album of his own. Ne-Yo’s Year of the Gentleman is exactly what his fans will be looking for and, while only incrementally so, is probably his best album yet. What you see is still pretty much what you get, so the album is hardly an artistic revelation. But as well as he’s been doing, simply keeping the pace is good enough for now.Ne-Yo’s third album isn’t really a big evolution from his last so much as a second attempt at the same thing. Because of You – Prince + Stevie Wonder = Year of the Gentleman; by stripping away the uncomfortably kinky moments and tightening up the production, Ne-Yo hasn’t necessarily made a drastic improvement on his formula, but does a better job presenting it. Tracks like “So You Can Cry” may be less personal than the last album’s bizarrely confessional discussions of sex addiction but that’s hardly a bad thing. Staying away from his personal life frees things up considerably and allows him to write songs that will be interesting for longer since they’re not so topical.Much like Because of You, Ne-Yo unapologetically jacks Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones in more than a few spots, but If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. He invokes Off the Wall even in his most sincere attempts to be original (“Closer”) but we’ve heard Ne-Yo pull this act enough that it’s not a surprise. Really, it’s one of the better tricks up his sleeve anyway. “Miss Independent” and “Closer” take similar cues from Europe, but “Closer” fares better due to the easier to follow vocal performance inspired by Michael. “Single” was better a few months ago when Usher released it as “Love In This Club” but in general, Ne-Yo is delivering what we’ve grown accustomed to both on his own songs and those that he’s written for others. The deluge of Ne-Yo penned songs on the radio makes much of his own album sound like songs we’ve heard many times over but that’s a common issue for popular singer/songwriters and isn’t entirely his fault. Obviously the public’s appetite for his style hasn’t been satisfied and you can’t blame him too much for sticking to the script.Miss Independent – Ne-Yo

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