ALBUM REVIEW: John Legend - Evolver

John Legend introduced himself to us by fusing old-school R&B with subtle Hip-Hop sounds and giving it an updated look and feel. He then dabbled in merging Pop-R&B with elements of Jazz and Light Rock for his sophomore release. For his third album, Evolver, John focuses on a radio-friendly Pop format, bringing us tracks like “Green Light” (guest-starring Andre 3000) a futuristic single that trades the grand piano for keyboard synths.On Evolver, John further employs his skill with poetic lyrics. “Everybody Knows” sounds like a softer version of Alicia’s "No One," while “Quickly” has the most potential as a single. The duet with Brandy has an undeniable catchiness and finds John keeping focused on the mission of Evolver. A few old-school elements come when John uses Jazz lyrical arrangements and minimalist piano and string tracks, like on “This Time,” Evolver’s “Ordinary People.”The album flows neatly from memorable melody to memorable melody until he slows up and brings a monotone vocal. On “Good Morning,” he bores like he did on Once Again with “Maxine” and his attempt to freak it up a little and get his Reggae on with Estelle on “No Other Love” are the slowest points on the album. Still, with each of those tracks, John’s signature build from chorus to bridge makes it worth a listen and not completely unsatisfying. In a matter of four years, John has delivered three solid albums. Even if Evolver is less cohesive due to the integration of the Pop sound to the alternative styles he played around with in Once Again, it still is light years ahead of any artist mimicking his suave persona. Either way, credit should be given where it’s due; John Legend has definitely been doing things his way.