Brian McKnight – Genesis
“The update.” “The Remix.” “If it ain’t new, it’s through.” Being part of a rapidly-changing culture is a double-edged sword. News happens in real time, smart phones are switched out like linens, and everybody is trying to get the jump on the next guy or girl in pursuit of ‘the next big thing.’
The problem with that type of existence, besides the stress, is failing to realize that a lot of things wouldn’t benefit from a drastic change. Just because we can instantly text our thoughts and feelings, for example, doesn’t mean we should. Sometimes a little tweak over here or a slight embellishment right there is enough to get the job done, which is why Brian McKnight’s loyal fans should truly enjoy his latest and 12th release, the appropriately-named Genesis.
It’s tempting to think that Genesis signals a return to McKnight’s gospel leanings; instead, what’s happening is Brian has rediscovered, and demonstrated, his playful yet passionate side (experiencing ‘crazy love’ as a newlywed can do that to you). Yes, there are modern twists and a few brow-raising couplets, but overall, Genesis harkens back to the sweetness and sensuality that attracted fans to his sound in the first place: “10 Million Stars,” is a breathless vow stretched over a scattering midtempo, sharing Brian’s wish to follow his muse to the heavens and beyond. “So Damn Real” is more spoken than sung, describing the head rush an eligible bachelor can feel when they have to wait longer than usual to get the finish line; “We spent some time, it started getting late/I said ‘come over,’ you said I had to wait. So we can kick it, let’s do it right/then we can do it each and every single night.” Patience can seem old-fashioned, but that’s what Genesis is all about: reaching back in time to how things used to be.
If you’re old enough to remember “Love Is,” the duet with Vanessa Williams that launched Brian’s solo debut, then you’re familiar with actual phone calls, handwritten love notes and thoughtful exchanges that took more effort than quirky emoticons and ‘sliding into the DMs.’ He lays it bare in the intro—“We don’t really talk like we used to, just 128 characters or less/we don’t love like we used to, is anybody willing to clean up the mess?”—- and makes the music more about the intro (“Udonthav2blonelynomo,” no typo), anticipation (the PG dates and rated R intentions in “Blow Your Mind” and the piano-anchored sangin’ ballad, “I Want U”) the taut, danceable teaser (“Hungry 4 U”) and even a little angst (“Don’t Leave”). Brian McKnight’s sons may keep him up on new game, but he’s wise enough to apply it sparingly this time around, rather than overthrowing his classic technique altogether.
In the beginning, there was the talent and eventually came the melodies. Then those lyrics. And then, we beheld his buttery tenor and that incredible falsetto glide from on high. For over 20 years, we’ve been blessed with the stylings of Brian McKnight, and like the original Genesis once stated, the works are abundant and very, very good. Amen. Highly Recommended.
By Melody Charles