Album Listening Post
In 2004, John Legend (then known primarily as an in-demand all-star studio session man) stepped into the solo spotlight as a premier singer-songwriter-pianist-performer in his own right with his debut album Get Lifted.
When asked what he hopes his fans will glean from his much-anticipated sophomore album, John replies, "I want them to hear that I've grown. That I'm trying to take them to new places and to be excited about that. This album is an expansion more than anything else. I'm trying to be me and embrace all the parts of me that have grown up, listened to more music and soaked up more influences. Get Lifted was me then. This is me now."
John's new album, is many things, chief among them, it's a pop/soul album fueled by intelligence, intuition, sensuality, spirit and a creativity made possible when which includes Raphael Saadiq, Kanye West, Craig Street and will.i.am, who brought the lead single, "Save Room," to John. Breezy and sexy, "Save Room" is a joyful, cool love song, inspired by an old AM radio single, "Stormy," by the Classics IV (a 60's Top 40 band best-known for "Spooky"). As John recalls, "will brought the sample. I didn't even know the original. I just knew it was a nice organ sound and wanted to write to it. I just started mumbling along to it, finding my place in the melody and it worked for me."
Laced with a somewhat more dramatic flair is the mid-tempo "Where Did My Baby Go." He takes a somewhat political perspective on the stately "Coming Home".
Relationship ups and downs are the subject of the swaying Kanye West-produced "Heaven Only Knows.", "Show Me," which John cites as one of his favorites, is hushed, haunting and deliberately ambiguous. Co-produced by Raphael Saadiq and Craig Street (Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Cassandra Wilson), "Show Me" was, according to John, "intended to be about God, but I also wanted it to have the feel of a romantic song as well.
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