John Legend LOVE IN THE FUTURE
John Legend, no surprise, is all about romance in his fourth album, “Love in the Future.”
The 34-year-old singer, pianist and songwriter and his fiancée, 27-year-old model Chrissy Teigen, are set to marry this month in Italy. In tune with his forthcoming nuptials, Legend sounds swept away by love in many of his new album’s songs. And in the current pop and R&B musical world, maybe nobody does romantic love better.
Legend is awash in a blissful tone of wonder in “The Beginning …,” one of his many passion-filled “Love in the Future” selections. For the epic romantic landscape of “Made to Love,” he sings of his destiny to be with the one to whom he’s so devoted. But it’s the truly moving “All of Me” that seems destined to be a favorite wedding song of the future.
Legend makes an apropos link from one piano man to another in “Tomorrow,” which samples a Dr. John song, “Glowin’.” Like the latter New Orleans musician, Legend is a music maestro whose multi-Grammy-winning success is well deserved.
Neko Case THE WORSE THINGS GET, THE HARDER I FIGHT, THE HARDER I FIGHT, THE MORE I LOVE YOU
Neko Case’s sixth album, even without its three bonus songs, is a bold, expansive project with a cast of thousands.
Well, not thousands, but many supporting players, including such well-known music names as Jim James and Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket, M. Ward, Case’s New Pornographers bandmates A.C. Newman and Kurt Dahle, Steve Berlin from Los Lobos, prolific session guitarist Marc Ribot and Case’s regular on-stage backing vocalist, Kelly Hogan.
As much as Case’s musical forces enliven, expand and grace her new songs, the album soars most of all upon its ringleader’s grand, unique voice and distinctive songwriting. Despite some songs that can’t find their way home to an ending, the album is her best work since 2006’s masterful “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.”
Following a pair of wistful, down-tempo songs, Case raises the tempo with “Man,” a defiant song featuring assault-weapon drums, fuzzy electric guitar and lyrics that present an inner contradiction.
“I’m a man’s man, I’ve always been,” the 42-year-old Case declares. “But make no mistake what I’ve invested in. A woman’s heart is the watermark by which I measure everything.”
Case’s voice being an especially beguiling element of her work, no complaining is necessary when she multi-tracks her magnificently decisive instrument for “I’m From Nowhere.” The Neko Case Singers, as it were, are accompanied only by Jon Rauhouse’s acoustic guitar.
“City Swans,” another up-tempo song and album highlight accompanied by a squad of supporting players, moves with the sort of forward hustle that Case employs so effectively. And in an album that continuously offers fresh instrumental textures, Joey Burns’ cello puts something new on the table.
“The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You,” Case has said, follows a three-year period of mourning stemming from the deaths of her parents as well as several close associates. But as the album reveals, Case is not defeated. She’s come back strong, saying what she has to say with striking forcefulness.