Avant – Can We Fall In Love
has maintained a steady track record of quality grown folks’ R&B with just the right edge of youthful sensibility. Appealing to listeners of varying ages and stylistic preferences, his supple tenor tones and straightforward phrasing have seen him through eight albums of engaging modern-day soul.
Avant’s first decade of output was released through major labels, while his more recent work has been through independent record labels. On his ninth set, Can We Fall in Love, he achieves the best of both worlds as he puts out music on his own label with support of the major distribution of Universal Music Group. Fittingly, the material within strikes a balance between the feel of his early singles like “Makin’ Good Love” and “Don’t Take Your Love Away” with fare that’s in line with releases of late by Mario and Bobby V.
Collaborating with frequent production partner Travis Says, Avant delivers well-constructed melodies and to-the-point lyrics on the mellow “Live a Lie” and slow-groovin’ “All in My Head.” Although the midtempo “Edible” serves as the lead single from Can We Fall in Love, the relative musical subtleties of “Take It Slow” leave more of a lasting impression. The lyrics are of a more explicit nature, but Avant’s cool and calm purveyance of the lines captures the mood appealingly.
The most uptempo moment of the album comes in the lightly reggaeton-influenced “Irreplaceable,” which engages with a quiet rhythmic energy and memorable melody conveyed with smooth vocal aplomb. Conversely, Avant employs a direct vulnerability on the closing “Worth It,” a downtempo jam that finds him pondering the possibilities of a romantic relationship in the absence of an undesirable third party: “That’s not real love I see, is it?/I don’t want to make this hard/I do everything you asked of me, and you play your part, and we’ll make it worth it/I’ll just play my part, and we’ll make it worth it.”
The opening track of Can We Fall in Love, “You Don’t Love Me No More,” is a separate entity of sorts from the rest of the album, both in its lyrical disposition and the feel of its arrangement. Subtly weaving in traces of ‘90s hip-hop-R&B, Sayles’ production and Avant’s performance fit like hand in glove, and make for what is in some respects the most resounding number of the album—especially with its slowed-down outro three minutes into the tune. Meantime, the title track is a signature Avant number with a familiar essence that is refreshingly endearing.
While Avant might not be forging into unexpected territory on Can We Fall in Love, he demonstrates throughout a keen awareness of the sonic qualities his devotees desire while incorporating just enough of a contemporary edge to recruit new fans. In both his material and delivery, he exudes an assured sensitivity that makes for a consistently pleasing listening experience. Recommended.