Ne-Yo’s third album, “Year of the Gentleman” is a bit less gentlemanly than hoped for, but it still has many redeeming qualities.
Starting with the creepy but catchy “Closer,” the opening track definitely does not set the album’s tone. The tempo steadily rises, creating true anticipation of the chorus, which lives up to the build musically. However, when one actually listens to the lyrics, the song is simply a let down. Ridiculously similar in meaning to “Because of You,” Ne-Yo seems to not think about anything other than addiction. The “Closer” lyric, “I just can’t pull myself away,” falls into almost the exact lines of “I try and try but my obsession won’t let me leave.”
The rest of the album has a very different feel to it, as it tries to play off the gentleman claim made by the title. While one would think that “Nobody” is a typical sappy love song, it is surprisingly upbeat. This song combines the seductive emphasis of “Closer” with a jazzy, coffee-shop feel and puts up that smooth, stylish gentlemen look that Ne-Yo conveys with the cover. Similarly, the next track “Single” starts quietly, but builds up again.
With a solid, fast beat in the background, Ne-Yo makes one thing constant throughout the entire album: a solid drive. Even the slower, sappier songs portray a sad man, but more importantly, one still looking for love. “Mad” and “Lie To Me” are two such songs.
The second single, “Miss Independent,” depicts an atypical R&B woman singing, “She got her own thing / that’s why I love her / Miss Independent.” While chasing a woman who is a “boss” isn’t exactly chivalrous, it gives some legitimacy to the ideal of a modern lady. “So You Can Cry” is a cute, up-tempo song that seems like it came from John Mayer’s repertoire, but Ne-Yo does it surprisingly well, demonstrating an emergence of new style with this album.
Similarly, “Stop This World” seems like it came from Whitney Houston, but he somehow does this “feel good” song some justice. The other songs in the album blend in well, but aren’t anything new after the style of the last album.
Ne-Yo fans will find this third album a pleasant surprise. He has definitely found his musical esquire status and is on his way to being a true gentlemen.