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Album Review: Brian McKnight – More Than Words

4 min read

More Than Words is the latest catalogue addition for US R&B superstar and 16-time Grammy Award nominee, Brian McKnight. Released on March 4th in the UK and March 19th in the US, the 16 track collection we have been presented with marks a welcome return for not just those sensually dressed, smooth and persuasive vocals but for one of the worlds most celebrated songwriters.

BrianMcKnightMoreThanWordsAlbumI think it is a fairly safe assumption that the singers 1999 hit Back at One is what most people will remember the singer and multi-instrumentalist by.  The song set the bar pretty high for any future release from Brian and quickly became his signature penning.

Collaborations have also been a successful area of expertise for Brian. Over the years he has worked with a long line of music’s most elite including the likes of Rascal Flatts, Vanessa Williams, Nelly, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake.

We have been a little out of the Brian McKnight loop over these past few years so when we received the record to give our going-over we were interested to hear where Brian’s music is at these days.

Didn’t Mean To Turn You Out is an exquisite Jazz bar style inclusion with a stripped back instrumentation and a series of instrumental solo moments where a piano and percussion find a gentle yet highly memorable nesting spot on the album. It really is quite a different style to the rest of the record but that’s what makes it so unique at the same time.

Old school urban flows run riot on the following Don’t Stop where Brian is able to unleash those breathy, sultry and seductive vocals that make us fall in love with him time and time again. A cool bass provides the backbone to the track giving it a funk influenced licking.

With any release from Brian McKnight the center piece is usually the collaboration that we get offered and on More Than Words Brian pairs up with singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat who has helped co-write the track, Words. It’s a little less thrilling than we hoped for with a collaborative efforts and doesn’t quite tick the right boxes for us unfortunately as it lacks the vocal duet we were expecting to hear on the record and the songs sounds too similar to other inclusions on More Than Words.

The singer’s strong and distinctive falsetto skills are put to the test on Let Somebody Love You and Made For Love, both of which also add an upbeat injection of energy to the center of the record. Though the instrumentation has a slightly retro/manufactured feel on the latter, we welcome both tracks at this point of the record due to the first half of the album being handed over to the ballads.

Nearing the end of the record we find the albums lead single, Sweeter. Already proving a favorite for the singers fans, Sweeter is a fresh, well produced mid tempo hit. The guitar that drives the track adds to the summery, refreshing style of the song and is an instant favorite on More Than Words.

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The record is a nice release for the singer though there are a couple of things that we have to object to. The first is the disappointing collaboration between McKnight and Collait. From the news swirling ahead of the release we were led to believe the collaboration would be a vocal duet rather than a songwriting partnership and that is something we were really looking forward to and never received on the record.

The other thing is that the up-tempo hits are too few and far between. Though the musician is known for his ballads and one should expect the majority of any Brian McKnight release to be taken up with those on the romantic and soulful side, it would have been nice to have been offered just a few more tracks to move to and to split up the track-listing a bit.

Nonetheless the exemption of a few dance floor hits and the disappointment of the missing vocal duet doesn’t take away the fact that More Than Words is a remarkable record overflowing with the smooth groves and charming songwriting brilliance of an R&B master.

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