In an age where technology dominates our lives (whether we like it or not), and there is a constant obsession with revamping traditional values, musicians are left with the daunting task of creating art that reflects this progressive society.
So when you happen to hear your favorite artist incorporating completely different sounds into their music, don’t be alarmed. To quote a Prince album, its just a “Sign O The Times.”
John Legend is a perfect example of this artistic progression that takes place as a result of the changing times and the role technology plays in it. On his new album, Love in the Future,(released today) Legend gives classic R&B and soul a digital facelift by featuring electro-minimalistic timbres mixed with rock and hip hop influences. His modern take on love is a far cry from his past projects, such as his 2004 debut album Get Lifted, where he was hailed as the regenerator of classic soul that was started by his predecessors Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. He quickly shot up the R&B ladder with memorable tunes like “Ordinary People” for which he won a Grammy and with help from his production partner Kanye West, who also founded the G.O.O.D. Music label that Legend is signed to, the 34-year-old artist joined the ranks as one of the leading male contemporary R&B artists of generation X.
While some artists try to change their sound, but fall short of their goal, Legend didn’t make that mistake. He still kept his smooth, soulful vocals intact and didn’t sacrifice his artistic ability for the sake of fitting in with the crowd. Love is still at the core of his music, as its always been. He just took his passion a step further on Love in the Future, and after five years, his fans were desperate from some of that good lovin Legend portrays on record.
The heartaches, joys and unrequited pleasures of love are explored throughout the album, and Legend clearly makes light of his deep romance with his future wife model Chrissy Teigen.
The second single from the album “Made To Love” is a beautiful, rhythmic heavy anthem that declares that two people were destined to be together and somewhat plays off the futuristic love theme.
“All Of Me” is another touching ballad and it’s piano driven melody showcases Legend’s musical skills on the keys.
And on “You and I” he reassures his girl that she is the only girl in the world he wants and reminiscences about their love.
After listening to the first few songs, you’ll get the sense that a majority of the tunes were inspired by Legend’s relationship with Krissy. But, since love is a broad spectrum, Legend didn’t just focus on the good parts of the emotion, but on every aspect of it. He touches on a bit of the bad in the modern electric piece “I Wanna Be Loved” in which he asks to be taken out his state of loneliness.
He switches gears a bit on “Who Do We Think We Are” which goes back to the ’70s driven soulfulness that he is known for and features a few bars from hip hop artist Rick Ross.
Even though Legend takes a dip into the R&B future on his new album, he still reaches back to the classics on a few songs. He does a cover of Bobby Caldwell’s 1980 single “Open Your Eyes” and does a short teaser of Anita Baker’s song “Angel.”
What’s most appealing about Legend’s project is that he strips love down to a raw form and injects realness into every aspect of the emotion. By working with a diverse group of producers such as Kanye West, Dav Tozer, and Da Internz, Legend was able to get out of his soulful comfort zone and bring something new to his sound without watering it down.
With Love in the Future, Legend has managed to reinvigorate an age old emotion that is the center of all R&B music. And he succeeded in his goal with flying colors.