Ne-Yo - In My Own Words      
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written by Otty Warmann    
‘In My Own Words’, after first listening I felt was your average, run-of-the ‘contemporary r&b’ mill album. Good but not in possession of anything unique. I was certain I had heard this album before. After all, it had the usual content concerning relationships – break-ups, make-ups, an affinity towards love making and so forth. Essentially, there was nothing exciting or overly refreshing. Maybe it was the high expectations I had blanketed this, supposedly talented young songwriter with. I mean, how many 22 year-olds do you know that can say they were the brains behind the lyrics to a smash hit (Mario’s, ‘Let Me Love You’) and could list names such as Mary J.Blige, Musiq Soulchild and Faith Evans among their clientele? So I decided to put my review on hold with the idea that, like wine, the album would get better with time. Well, it did. But only very slightly.

Simple might be the best word to describe this album. The tracks are nice and among the listings you could pick out a number of singles. The first, ‘So Sick’, is best for knowing what the radio would play; or perhaps overplay. There are better tracks however, that showcase very adept and original production without conceding variety. The very slick, ‘Sexy Love’ and ‘Sign Me Up’ will, I’m sure, be favourites among his fan base. ‘Mirror’ is worth mentioning for its subject matter - his joy of making love in front of the mirror, and ‘When You’re Mad’ discusses his intensified attraction to his girlfriend when they are at odds. Don’t get me wrong; these would/will be hits, but that does not determine legitimacy. In any case, there is more to come from Ne-Yo. Personally, my brief moment of excitement came when listening to ‘Time’, a beautiful ballad which speaks of a relationship lost because of time not spent nurturing it.

Why an artist as talented as Ne-Yo should play it so safe I am unsure. What I am more certain of is that in releasing this album, he does make plain how far Usher is ahead of the rest of the pack. Despite this however, the future is bright for this youngster as there is no doubting his all around gifting as an artist. Certainly he needs to refine his craft and establish the direction he wants to take his music. When he does, I’m sure there will be enough following his path to ensure his star status for years to come.

Interestingly, I did hear Ne-Yo in a recent interview say that he thought listeners would enjoy the album because the subjects discussed are easy to relate to. This is a fair point but also a reason I feel, behind the ‘stock’ music generated by this genre. I would be intrigued to hear an artist mention as a selling point, more unusual and distinctive content for a change. I, for one would be a fan.

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