REVIEW: Ne-Yo drops fifth studio album R.E.D.

November 14, 2012

It may be his fifth studio album to date, but that doesn’t mean that Ne-Yo has lost any of the rhythm or cool grace that have come to be synonymous with his previous work. Released on November 6th, R.E.D. (an acronym for Realizing Every Dream) is perhaps Ne-Yo’s best album yet, providing fans with fourteen smooth tracks of R&B splendor.

The 30-year-old artist kicks things off right with the song “Cracks in Mr. Perfect”, which combines his soft vocals with a cool, relaxed backing. Singing that “if they really took the time to look / then they would see the cracks in Mr. Perfect”, Ne-Yo brings a sense of normality and humanness to the record right off the bat, making the very valid claim that not everything is always as it seems.

In contrast to the slowed down vibe of the opening song, the tempo is brought to full throttle in “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)”, which is arguably one of the best dance songs off the album. As proven by its success on the singles charts, “Let Me Love You” is a fun, beautiful anthem dedicated to convincing the song’s subject of their beauty. While the lyrics are inspiring, the instrumentals are infectious, a mixture of poppy and synthetic beats which make it an ideal choice for a club soundtrack.

For another dose of catchy flare, check out “Don’t Make Em Like You”, a song focusing heavily on funky beats and energetic vibes. Acting as a “toast to ladies with class”, the lyrics praise women who are both independent and determined – those fierce females who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it. It’s a nice tribute and features a fun appearance by rapper Wiz Khalifa.

Having garnered similar success to “Let Me Love You”, another notable duet that R.E.D. features is “She Is”, in which Ne-Yo teams up with country legend Tim McGraw to craft a beautiful and tender ballad. The acoustic-backed song centers around a situation in which one has fallen in love despite attempts not to – and when asked “who’s the owner” of their hearts, the men gracefully and simply sing that “she is”. The tempo of the song is a complete contrast to the club-appropriate “Let Me Love You”, but its sweet melodies and charming message provide substantial evidence for enjoying an equal amount of success.

Bringing the album to a satisfying end is “Burning Up”, which is (appropriately) a fiery track combining memorable beats with a classic R&B twist. Singing “I can’t decide / if I live or die / But I know tonight / I want that fire in your eyes”, Ne-Yo creates a song that succeeds in both telling a story and encouraging its listeners to get up and dance.

Those are just a sampling of the smooth cool that Ne-Yo achieves with ease in R.E.D. The album is a great representation of the artist’s talents as a vocalist as well as his abilities to capture pleasing and appropriate melodies. If you’re a fan of the Camden, Arkansas native or simply drawn to R&B as a whole, definitely give R.E.D. a listen. Encompassing all aspects of the genre while staying true to his personal sound, Ne-Yo proves that even through five albums, he’s still got it – and likely will for many albums to come.

-Shelley DeHekker


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