Friday, May 30, 2008

Usher "Stands" On Shaky Ground

This is more a public announcement than an album review.

The Usher you once knew is gone. In his place is a Bill Cosby, of sorts. A family man with an adulterous past, and a new found passion for preaching to the masses on what he deems appropriate conduct, Usher and the "Jello Puddin' Peddler" are on the same tip right now. "Here I Stand", Usher's fifth studio album, finds him in a world of marital and parental bliss, but does this world resonate with his fan base? Usher explains, "the fans who were 21 when I was 21, are now 29, so we are growing together." Very true Ush. Yet, the fans who didn't know who Usher was when he released 1999's breakthrough, "My Way", or his 2001 smash "8701", only know Usher of the "Confessions" era. These fans aren't 29 and beyond the hit first single, "Love In This Club", Usher hasn't provided many records on this new album for the younger set. In addition, fans that grew to love Mr. Raymond's upbeat catchy gems such as "U Don't Have To Call" and "Yeah!", will feel left out in the cold, as the new record is very mid and ballad heavy. Standouts on "Here I Stand" are the Tricky Stewart produced second single, "Moving Mountains" and the title track written by former Rocafella crooner, Rell. The constant mention of marriage and monogamy, on such tracks as "Appetite" and "Best Thing", become more than a recognizance of Usher's new place in life, but a redundancy and lack of creativity in creating a new and exciting concept driven album. I honestly feel that the place that Usher holds in the music industry is one of prominence. With that pedestal, Usher should innovate. And innovate well. I give Ush props for trying to "grow R&B up", but I think he may have been trying to grow up too fast. Stick to what you do best Usher, because when you don't, you end up "standing" on shaky ground.



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