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Album review: John Legend's 'Evolver'

October 28, 2008 |  5:12 pm

Legend Even when soul singer John Legend is proposing one of the traditionally worst ideas in romance — sleeping with his best friend — he still makes a pretty convincing argument. “Not just my homegirl, time that I take you home, girl,” he sings on the pristine piano-and-808 ballad “Cross the Line.”

Legend has all sorts of eyebrow-raising ideas on his third album, “Evolver.” There’s a smoky dub reggae tune, a sleek break-beat single and a sense of randiness that most fans didn’t know Legend had in him. “Evolver” is still grown-man party music though, and it should go a long way toward preserving his urban-boho reputation while breaking free of any NPR&B stasis in his songwriting.

“Green Light” is Legend’s first proper club single and should be utterly ubiquitous this winter. There’s a double-time drum loop, darting electro-funk synths and a rarely- sighted rap cameo from Andre 3000. It’s the sound of removing one’s Burberry scarf for a little necking in the back of a cab.

Legend’s still a most conscientious lover, and his rakish tricks come in the guise of a fine falsetto or piano run. But the urgency of “Evolver” is apparent on “Quickly,” where he implores “The globe is warming, my country’s warring / kiss me — like the world is quaking.”

If it’s truly the end of days, there are probably worse ways to spend it than being seduced by John Legend.

--August Brown

John Legend
"Evolver"
Columbia
3 stars

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