Brian McKnight

Mowtown, 2001

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


I suppose that since I'm female, I should drool and swoon over Brian McKnight's handsome features and sexy voice. Sorry, not feelin' it. Granted, he is pretty, but that shouldn't be the criteria used for purchasing music. It doesn't motivate me, anyway. I don't mean to downplay the obvious talents of this gentleman, but he just does not do it for me personally.

McKnight composes, produces and sings. He is known for his ballads, and he says that he does strive to stretch himself. I have my doubts about that. He appreciates that he has a signature sound but encourages listeners to broaden out their musical choices. The title track, "Hero" has a tough and strong beat. I actually like the music on this one. It has some flashy guitar riffs by Brian, Derrick Cummings and James Mazles. "Still" distinguishes itself with beautiful orchestrations and the vocals are silky smooth. The lyrics are sentimental; it's a perfect love song. This piece almost changed my opinion of the man... almost.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Brian McKnight has a gospel upbringing and was a member of the church choir as a youngster. "When Will I See You Again" reflects that history, vocally and topically. I like the harmony with Fred Hammond -- they play off one another, and that aids McKnight considerably. They plead for a better day because "...the world is sinking down so low." "When You Wanna Come" has a heavy heart-like thumpity thump beat in the background that adds some interest, but I still found it pretty monotonous and nothing special; just another song in a long lineup of uniformity. The vocals are bit too familiar.

On this release, McKnight starts off on a pleasing note, but sad to say, after hearing that same note for half an hour, I lost interest. Brian McKnight does not want to be put into a musical "genre" box. And yet, on this disc, he contains himself almost exclusively to that self-imposed r&b/soul box. I have no problem with the music itself, or with the lyrics. But he sticks with what is safe, rather than venturing out and stretching himself, and could stand to expend more energy vocally. I also think it would be interesting to see him go in a completely different direction with his music, even if I'm not sure what direction that might be. He seems like a talented man who just hasn't quite matured into his potential as an artist.

Unfortunately, after all is said and done, I still think Brian McKnight's work all sounds alike here, or at the very least, so repetitious that I find myself getting bored very quickly. I suspect I am in the minority on this... he is definitely loved by many, judging by sales. But sales aren't everything.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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