Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Usher -- Confessions
Arista; 2004

For a little bit there, I thought Usher had gone missing. I checked the clubs, the strip clubs, and the rodeos (I don't know, just to be thorough). Finally, after asking his long-time girlfriend, now current ex-girlfriend Chilli Thomas, I got the answer "He had better be at the confessional, if he knows what's good for him!" What she had casually left out was that for Usher, the confessional is a recording booth. Confessions, Usher's fourth album is fairly balanced between tearful fireside chats and party-packing movers and shakers.

As the title suggests, Confessions is a rather personal album with much of the subject matter focusing of infidelity, both his and hers. As expected, there are a lot of "I want you back" lyrics -- pretty typical pop/R n' B stuff. What got my ears to perk up was the track "Confessions II," a tell-all of a song about finding out his girl on the side is preggers. Whoa! That actually happens?? I'm so used to hearing stuff like "I sleep with all the womenz" from R. Kelly and the like, that the line "...that chick from part one I was creepin' with... / say she's three months pregnant and she's keepin' it," is plainly shocking.

Usher struggles over whether or not to stay with his girl despite their problems on the dusty-grooved "Take Your Hand." "Burn" is a twinkle and stomp ballad about coming to the point where breaking up is the only feasible option. Even tracks where Usher isn't moaning about love lost sound honest. Switching the roles to become his girlfriend's crazed groupie (like on "Superstar II") and giving a stern lecture to players that don't treat their girlfriends right ("Simple Things") make Usher all the more adorable. That seems to be his allure -- he may be a gajillion album-selling big shot, but he still comes off relatively grounded and human -- more than I can say for some of his peers in contemporary R n' B.

So he's down to Earth, and that's cool, but what I'm sure what people really want to know is, how's the music, Ush? Confessions provides a few tracks that number among Usher's best and a few that might be better forgotten after a night of heavy... dancing. Pretty much everyone knows the Lil' Jon-produced megacrunk hit "Yeah!", the track that ratcheted Confessions to the top of charts. Slick and smooth dance number "Caught Up" is loaded with blippy bass and carried by about 15 layers of Usher's vocals. The crackling, laid back funk of "Take Your Hand" is where he really lets loose, flying all over the octaves. And even though Just Blaze's track "Throwback" sounds more like Just Blase at times, the hazy, soul-sampling song actually works out pretty well for Usher's voice.

However, the album falters when Usher tries to scale it back a notch. "Can You Handle It," "That's What It's Made For," and "Follow Me" are like R. Kelly lite -- only a little sexy and half as memorable. Its decent lyrics aside, "Burn" is a total bore, making me wish Jermaine Dupri could have replicated the hotness of "U Got It Bad" instead of this yawn. The track "Bad Girl" is actually laughable, considering that it sounds like he borrowed JC Chasez's producers and utters the phrase "pimp juice."

At an hour long and fraught with some pretty weak slow jamz, Confessions is a far from perfect album, but not a bad record by any standards. Usher's fourth album is more than just tales of his most recent sexual exploits -- it's a well blended record that mixes emotion and heartbreak with some club-ready hits. I almost wish that more R n' B'ers would wax emotional on their albums, but I'm too afraid it would lead to an emo R n' B scene. That's a scary enough thought to make me wish I were missing too.

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

0 Responses to “”

Leave a Reply

      Convert to boldConvert to italicConvert to link


I Got Love For

ATOM 0.3

Establish Contact:

Previous posts


Add to your Kinja digest