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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Brian McKnight

MUSIC REVIEWS

Brian McKnight-I'll Be Home For Christmas (Razor & Tie)

Like most soul men, Brian McKnight has a soft spot for the holidays.  Memories of Christmases past, family and love have a time-honored place in the rhythm and blues world.  Therefore it is no great surprise that McKnight has decided to wrap his silky pipes over a series of yuletide favorites and a couple of originals.

McKnight has some experience in seasonal music already.  He wrote, produced and performed on Boyz II Men's early-90s holiday hit "Let It Snow."  That song does not reappear here, though McKnight does a nice job of singing Jule Styne's better-known classic of the same name with his two sons. 

McKnight doesn't reinvent most of these well-known songs, but he does put his own little stamp on most.  He returns to the jazzy roots of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" and does a beautifully longing piano version of the title song.

McKnight's originals are nice, though a little overmatched.  McKnight indulges his taste for genre-hopping by doing a sweet adult contemporary duet called "Christmas You and Me" with country music star Vince Gill.  Honestly, as a song it is fine, very pretty but not nearly as memorable as many of the Christmas classics surrounding it here.

I'll Be Home for Christmas isn't Brian McKnight's best album - nor is it intended to be.  It is a sweet and pretty testimonial to Christmas.  As such it works very well.

Dave Strohler

Copyright © 2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 20, 2008.

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Copyright © 2005-2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2005 and December 20, 2008.

 

Brian McKnight-Gemini (Motown)

You’d be hard pressed to find an artist today that can write, produce, arrange, sing, and play all in one album.  If you search a little harder, you’ll discover that Brian McKnight can do it all.  McKnight has compiled a vast repertoire that includes collaborations with Vanessa Williams, Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey.  The list could go on.  It is a wonder that after being nominated numerous times, McKnight has not secured a Grammy Award.  Being snubbed aside, McKnight continues to produce music that crosses genre lines and breaks new musical territory, an accomplishment that cannot be measured by any award.  His new release, Gemini is no exception.

Fueled by lead single “What We Do Here,” Gemini is destined to become any music lover’s favorite.  The single, which flirts with the topic of a discreet, intimate encounter, showcases McKnight’s voice gliding effortlessly above equally impressive production.  The live instrumentation is crisp and contains the pristine pop elements of a live band. 

Gemini is one of those collections on which each track gets better and better.  Listeners will find themselves discovering something new with each listen.  McKnight treads familiar territory with the ballad “Everytime You Go Away.”  It is a signature McKnight ballad, containing a sparse piano backdrop and full, lush strings.  In what seems to be an attempt to stay contemporary, McKnight welcomes southern rapper Juvenile to the fold.  Juve’s inclusion on “Whatcha Gonna Do” seems a little out of place, but his style is properly applied to McKnight’s talents and it works better than expected. 

The gospel-blessed “Everything I Do” is a perfect example of the pure vocal prowess McKnight boasts.  “Here with You” is pure soul enjoyment.  It is a tune meant to be a feel-good, reassurance of love, with a throwback vibe.  As he croons, “There’s no place/I’d rather be/Than here with you,” McKnight’s falsetto punctuates the track sounding better than Michael Jackson, pre-surgery.  The jazzy “Your Song” is fitting closer and is further proof that McKnight can take any type of genre and make it his own.

Gemini is worth more than just a listen.  It is worth taking note that McKnight owns one of the best pure voices in music, a voice that may never be matched.  McKnight’s followers will probably agree that McKnight has topped himself with Gemini.  Like wine, McKnight gets better with age.  His music is timeless.  Hopefully this is a preview of greater things to come from one of music’s premiere talents.  (2/05)

Abraham Kuranga

Copyright © 2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2005.