February 24, 2005

Same Old, Same Old

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Brian McKnight combines old school with new school to take you back to school again. His new album Gemini allows McKnight to show his romantic side. This time, however, instead of singing, “When violets turn blue,” his words are “Grown man business.” The lyrics had to change because this album sets the mood less for a romantic embrace and more for a bedroom romp. “Romp” might imply energy, but McKnight’s songs signal more of a slow and sultry foreplay. In other words, it certainly isn’t highway driving music.

His first song, “Stay with Him” is an acapella tune that will remind you of old school Boyz 2 Men. In fact, McKnight’s first words in the song are “Yo let’s take it back y’all.” He proceeds to sing a solo backed by harmonizing male voices coupled with occasional clapping. The song’s message is that “you might as well stay with him,” and not me. McKnight is telling a girl that he told her not to fall in love with him and that, well, “They say the grass is greener on the other side.” McKnight obviously doesn’t love her, but if he keeps singing these soulful notes like he does, she might as well not care. “Stay With Him” is probably the album’s best song.

After that McKnight begins to “reel em in” with “What We Do Here.” The sexy, smooth song definitely qualifies as great entertainment for that special date.

McKnight’s third song, “Everytime You Go Away” echoes the oft-repeated message about love and yearning in his previous releases. Slow piano and violin accompaniment make this song stand out from the rest of the album, which tends to put more complicated acoustics behind the melody.

On a different note, “Grown Man Business,” says “If you ready for a grown man lay back and get this grown man business.” Nuff said? This song spins around the usually female complaint of being dumped for someone younger. McKnight says, “When you decide that little boy’s finished girl, come back and get this grown man business girl.” Slightly upbeat with a sort of LL Cool J feel to it, the song is hot to say the least.

Very romantic and calming, “Everything I Do” is good for a slow dance. McKnight hits some impressive high falsetto notes as he says “Everything I do, I do it for you.”

Running contrary to his trend of smooth, relaxing songs, “She” is McKnight’s first try at being upbeat since the intro. McKnight says, “I know she’s more woman than I’ve seen,” and even though the beat takes the song out of the bedroom and onto the dance floor, you can’t really get past a two step with this one. It’s just not that energy-inducing, but McKnight tries. A guest rapper and McKnight’s attempt at some falsetto notes reminiscent of the late Marvin Gaye, attempts to add something to the song, but in reality, doesn’t do much.

The reach for more edge is continued with “Watcha Gonna Do,” McKnight’s eleventh song, which starts off sort of confrontational and “gangsta” to say the least. But McKnight soon comes in with a chorus of “Watcha Gonna Do” and the song starts to channel the slow and relaxing style of its predecessors.

‘Your song” has a lovely background accompaniment, accomplished through a blend of piano and guitar. The song is again reminiscent of his past albums because it is presented as a serenade to a woman. McKnight charms us with, “well baaaabbbyy, here’s your song,” and it is beautiful.

His last song, “Me and You” is totally different from the other songs on the album. When I say different, I mean in terms of lyrics rather than rhythm. The song is still slow with the occasional passionate violin. However, this song, which seems like it would be about “me” and “you” as in “you and me, baby,” is actually about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Similar to “When the Chariot Comes” from McKnight’s album Anytime, it’s one of the good songs on Gemini because it manages to stand out from the rest.

Overall, the album is pretty good, but not great. Many of the songs are similar in tone and most of the lyrics aren’t anything spectacular. After “Grown Man Business” the album begins to sound like it’s repeating itself. However, the album might be worth a listen if you want to save it for the bedroom or remember the sounds of Boyz 2 Men, Marvin Gaye and of course McKnight’s previous albums.

Archived article by Ikea Hamilton
Sun Staff Writer