Usher integrates new sounds to create a work of palatable radio-friendly dance music
Some younger fans might know Usher as the man who brought them Justin Bieber, but he rose to pop success on his own accord in 1994, when at the tender age of 16, he released his self-titled debut album. Many pop stars have come and gone since 1994 (who could forget Venga Boys... or 5ive, for that matter!), but Usher has carefully crafted a long-lasting music career. Now he's back with his latest attempt at pop success.
Let it be said that Looking for Myself is a pop masterpiece, full of songs with dance sensibilities that deal with issues beyond love stories. An artist that's straddled genres, Usher leans heavily towards dance over hip-hop on this album.
Climax, which has already received favourable reviews around the industry, is the first single. Slow R&B with a dance beat and Usher's signature dramatic delivery. Numb, produced by Swedish House Mafia, is an uplifting dance tune (Usher fans will find similarities to Without You) - it's the kind of song you'd imagine yourself dancing to, hands waving, in a club on a summery night.
With lyrics like: "They say life is a battlefield / I say bring it on", the underlying message of Looking for Myself is one of someone who's had a few kicks to the head in life and lived to tell the tale. The title track, Looking for Myself, is Usher's version of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. The layered sound and positive feeling makes the track even more exciting.
Many of the tracks are dark, a bit heavy and elude to a hint of heartbreak. Songs like Sins of the Father are soulful and vulnerable, which give the album a tinge of darkness that makes it addictive. The more you listen to songs like Show Me, you get a feel for Usher's depth. His experience and a rich understanding of pop clearly shines through some of the more generic lyrics.
Show Me is a nod to a positivity found throughout the album, with the lyric: "Just lift your head up high, improvise / Just live your life, now is the time." In Looking For Myself, Usher continues with songs that reflect on his strengths (think dance floor anthems like Yeah peppered with reflective love jams like Burn). With something for everything - classic club tunes, Usher's signature R&B roots and genuinely well-written songs, this is a great album.
Looking For Myself is released June 11, 2012