Friday, March 13, 2009

Album Review: J. Holiday - Round 2 (2.5 / 5)

R&B singer, J. Holiday was one of the biggest success stories of 2007, his debut single "Bed" became one of the biggest R&B singles of that year, although his debut offering Back of My Lac' failed to connect commercially, the album was more enjoyable that I had previous intended it to be (along with "Bed") the album also churned another single out "Suffocate" which wasn't a commercial success, but one of my favorite songs of 2007. "Pimp In Me" and "La La" were more enjoyable cuts from the album. With all respect, some of the greatest R&B artists today didn't hit hard with their debut albums but then went on to release some great offerings. Usher's 1993 self titled debut was pretty poor. Jamie Foxx's Peep This had a handful of good cuts but nothing noteworthy.

This shows how good of a start J. Holiday got off to, he joins the likes of R. Kelly and Montell Jordan who excelled with their debut offerings. After only a years break, does J. Holiday still carry that key spark he did with his debut offering? well... with the "It's Yours" released as the albums lead single, there wasn't much to go on --despite how good it might be, it sounds like a cheap remake of "Bed" --despite how good it was it failed to make any way on the main U.S. charts, which was a disappointing, hopefully the second single will fare better --that situations reminds me of when Chris Brown released "Wall to Wall" from his sophomore effort Exlusive and it peaked at just outside the top 90 on the Hot 100 but he quickly followed it up with his #1 hit "Kiss Kiss."

To get the main gist of the album, Round 2 falls very short in comparison to Back of My Lac' --the album as a whole seems more like recycled left overs from that album. Whilst it does have some good cuts, the albums clunkers are an earsoar. The best track on here is the closing number "I Tried" which is very dramatic number, even incorporating an electronic guitar backed with rhythmic handclaps and drums and a wonderfully layered chorus. "Fly" is another good one, it's a very mellow cut with a very angelic chorus. Following up on the good is "Homeless" which brings in the electronic guitar again, the verses compliment the chorus very well, I can't fault it if I tried.

Weirdly the second half of the album is better than the first. The first half contains more bland R&B including the lead single "It's Yours." The mid-paced "Wrong Lover" is my favorite from the first half - Caribbean drums and handclaps. Great. "Fall" is another good one, nothing remarkable though. I've held back the bad cuts for a while now, here goes: "Don't Go" sounded very good on the preview, but the repetition of the lyric: "difficult" makes the chorus very lacking.

"Run Into My Arms" has a nice breezy chorus but that can only do so much, it gets annoyingly boring after a while. "Sing 2 U" isn't any better, the deep bassline should tweak the song a tad, but it adds nothing new. The worst on here is "Lights Go Out", I don't like this at all, I don't understand the use of the tuneless, multiple monotone vocals. "Make That Sound" is better, a tad vulgar, but portrayed in a sultry way. "Forever Ain't Enough" is a nice melodic number, definitely one of the better offerings on the first half.

Unfortunately Round 2 is essentially a bad follow up to Back of My Lac', which is a real shame as its predecessor was really good and deserved a good follow up. It continues a string of recent R&B albums that have fallen very short of decent. A real disappointment indeed. Hopefully the next album is better.

Best Tracks: I Tried, Homeless, Fly, Forever Ain't Enough, Wrong Lover

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