John Legend

Evolver (Columbia/Sony)


Rating: NNNN


Today’s exemplar of smooth, John Legend continues on his third album to write the new manual for men wanting to seduce.

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Famous for his soulful R&B ballads and seamless arrangements, Legend adds a few new elements on Evolver: a bit of pop, reggae and even a little funk.

Andre 3000, Brandy and Estelle contribute without overpowering, and Legend’s lyrics have evolved from the usual uplifting prose to a more provocative stance, as when he begs women everywhere to “show me your bed.” He even gets a little political, helping the Democrats out with If You’re Out There.

Though these changes are refreshing, the album maintains an underlying stillness that keeps Legend’s music from soaring.

He croons perfectly through all 13 tracks, but after a couple of listens it all sounds like one long song. This album, like everything else Legend has done, showcases his skill as an artist, but it lacks the passion that would help him reach the Stevie Wonder status he strives for.

John Legend hits Roy Thomson Hall November 28.

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