John Legend - Once Again

Once Again' follows simple formulas and reaches consistently impressive conclusions.

Album Review by Ally Brown | 10 Feb 2007
  • Once Again
Album title: Once Again
Artist: John Legend
Label: RCA
John Legend's first major cameo was playing piano on Lauryn Hill's massive hit 'Everything Is Everything' way back in 1998, but he's no longer a mere session player. In 2004 he sold three million copies of debut album Get Lifted and collected three Grammys from eight nominations, establishing himself as the pre-eminent new artist in neo-soul. This is what he does – taking obscure 60s soul cuts, Legend plays along on his ivory keys, and fashions new songs from the improv. Co-producer Kanye West plays him old samples and drum-beats and Legend writes around them. It's neither sampling or covering exactly, but it is acknowledging direct influences and taking them in new directions. So whilst he seems to be a classic songwriter in the soulful traditions of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Lionel Ritchie, with Kanye's modern sheen, and occasional hip-hop beats or crackling samplework he creates a balance between 2006 and 1976 that leans towards the past without sounding too retro. Mostly varying within loose bounds of mid-paced balladry, from 'Show Me's gorgeous plea for heavenly help, to the groovier, sample-backed 'Slow Dance', Once Again follows simple formulas and reaches consistently impressive conclusions. Inevitably HMV will stock this under 'urban', but that would be misleading – this is not gritty, or streetwise, or hard-edged; it's refined and romantic, charmingly naïve, and spiritually warm: Once Again is a bag of golden-wrapped nostalgic delights. [Ally Brown]
Release Date: Out now.