Straight from the real word, our friend Knuckles has kindly graced us with his thoughts on some new music this week:
JOHN LEGEND AND THE ROOTS - Wake Up!
After years of dancing around in the same ballroom, John Legend and The Roots have FINALLY partnered up to put out an album of covers, Wake Up. Here at Albums on the Hill, this was easily one of the most anticipated albums of the month, and has done quite well since it’s release. Other review sites have given it high praise for the slickness of John Legend’s singing on these older jazz and funk tunes, and The Roots perennial class and skill.
So how much does the praise represent the album versus the anticipation? I personally am underwhelmed. The song choice is outstanding, as they have picked just the right songs for the project and the desired tone. The Roots play in fine form, bring the most of their experience to the older tunes and creating new sounds in them.
John Legend is the weak link, surprisingly, because he is such a smooth and capable singer. He glides through the tunes with an ease and grace that the songs really don’t deserve or need - if I’m listening to “Hard Times” or “Little Ghetto Boy”, I want the singer to have a little gravel and gut in his voice. Legend does a magnificent job singing the songs, but I don’t think he captured the emotion I expect from some of these songs.
The album is good, well thought out and immaculately produced. It’s just a little TOO good for the material. If you like The Roots or John Legend, this is a great album. If you like the original material you’ll find something new here, but you’ll have to decide on your own if that something is desirable.