Friday, September 18, 2015

Brian McKnight-Just Me (2011)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 18, 2015

Going from somebody being 'sentimental me' to somebody being 'just me'..... As usual, there's a double meaning to that statement, the first one literally being the title to the tenth solo album by r&b sensation Brian McKnight. As for that second meaning? Well, that applies to myself, a I'm always jumping from one genre of the music to the next on the fly. It's been pretty much a steady diet of jazz and easy-listening music for me lately, but there's always room for some fresh contemporary r&b. It's nice to know that many of the r&b stars that came up in the 90's and were at the peak of their success in that decade are still finding success in this New Millennium. Although I've still yet to complete a full listen on Brian McKnight's career discography, I can say that I've at least enjoyed the two albums of his that I have given my full attention to. I've noticed that the sound of much of today's r&b music nowadays has got that techno synthesizing going on in the production, and I noticed that holds true here on "Just Me"—at least on a couple of cuts anyway. Interesting coincidence that it would be the pair of tracks entitled "Fall 5.0" and "Husband 2.1"—titled as if they were computer designations, or something related to that. And both are great jams, although I was quite surprised with the rather intense hard rock infused into the latter (maybe not so surprising, actually, as the intensity matches the edginess portrayed in the lyrics). "One Mo Time" (I like McKnight's personalized misspelling of 'more' to give it an urban flavor) is a wonderful listen, as he does some mighty classy, old-fashioned blues as he pleads with the lady whom he sings about to love him all over again. "Gimme Yo Love" (the personalized misspelling of 'your' suits his style again) is wonderful, too—a nice upbeat cut with a smooth groove , but surprises the senses with the awesome break in the production when he sings the hook 'I know I can make your dreams come true'. "Without You" is a fun song on a couple of different fronts: one being the beat (that techno synthesizing going on again, though a bit more subtle than the kind featured on "Fall 5.0" and "Husband 2.0"), then the virtual 'world tour' of sorts that he gives the listener in singing about all of the different places that he's gone (Cairo, Sydney, Rome, to name a few) though realizing that no matter where on this earth he goes, there's always love missing from the equation. Then speaking of fun, I had all sorts of that listening to McKnight's marvelous slow jazz remake of the George Michael golden oldie, "Careless Whisper". And now I really have lost count as to how many artists have covered this song! A moment of vocal excellence displayed by the r&b singer here for sure, especially when it becomes high and lofty and soars when delivering those familiar lyrics. While I love jazz, it honestly did take me a moment of two to get used to the different format, but I'll take it! And if you're a devoted Brian McKnight fan, ten you'll have even more fun checking him out on the accompanying live CD in this special double-disc edition. Unplugged and up-close-and-personal are these piano recordings he performs before a respectful audience, which consists of further remakes of golden oldies from the past—Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" (he's got just the perfect soulful vocals for this one!) and Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" are the two I recognized—plus remakes of some of his own golden hits: "Back At One" (my favorite Brian McKnight song that's been a mainstay on the r&b radio channels for an eternity) and, of course, "Anytime" (I've always loved the mellow, tender delivery of this song, and it sounds just as good here with that elegant piano serving as the main instrumental accompaniment as having the original r&b production we've come to know and love). Live performances aside, though, I'm pretty sure it's not just me when I say that the first CD of this package contains just the right amount of good stuff that keeps my ears happy:

CD #1

1. Temptation (Feat. Brian McKnight, Jr)
2. Fall 5.0
3. One Mo Time
4. Gimme Yo Love
5. Husband 2.1
6. Without You
7. Just Lemme Know
8. End And Beginning With You
9. Careless Whisper
10. Just Me

CD #2

1. Find Myself In You
2. More Than Wonderful
3. Only One For Me
4. Bio Pt. 1
5. Gonna Fly Now (Rocky Theme)
6. Sonata (Classical)
7. Rouge
8. Bio Pt. 2
9. On The Battlefield For My Lord
10. Bio Pt. 3 (Sweet Love)
11. Find My Way Back Home
12. Unforgettable
13. Overjoyed
14. Rock With You
15. Crazy Love
16. Can You Read My Mind?
17. Come Back To Me
18. Never Felt This Way
19. All I Need Is You
20. Still
21. Do You Ever Think About Me?
22. The Rest Of My Life
23. Temptation
24. I Miss You
25. Anytime
26. Back At One
27. One Last Cry
28. One More Try
29. Cherish
30. Shoulda Woulda Coulda

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