John Legend: Bigger Love review – More sickly sweet than sexy
R&B / Soul
At this point, John Legend has won almost every major music award, collaborated with everyone from Jay Z to Lauryn Hill and cemented his place in the pantheon of wedding perennials with 2013’s All of Me.
So, what next? The Ohio-born soul and r’n’b star described his seventh album as his “sexiest to date”, appropriately released when much of the world is in lockdown and eager to “make some coronababies” (his words, not ours). It’s certainly one of Legend’s schmaltziest, which is really saying something for a musician who pours his heart into his piano and then adds rainbow sprinkles for good measure.
When it works, as on songs such as schmoozy ballad U Move, I Move (a duet with Jhené Aiko), it’s an acceptable amount of mawkishness. Ooh Laa’s modern twist on doo-wop and the finger-clicking Actions, which uses a David Axelrod sample familiar to fans of Dr Dre, are both great, while One Life and Slow Cooker pay homage to classic soul.
All too often, though, Legend’s overbearing sentimentality scuppers his obvious talent as a musician, writer and singer, while the jarring Jamaican dancehall on Don’t Walk Away sounds out of place.
As “sexy” and unrepentantly soppy as this album may be, your receptiveness can be judged via one important question: can you forgive a spine-shuddering lyric such as “I love it when my roller coaster dips right into your ocean”?