Ten plus years after his platinum debut, Brian McKnight delivers a multi-faceted eighth album with Gemini, showcasing a couple of different sides to this multi-talented, multi-platinum artist.
The producer, writer, guitarist, pianist, singer--ok, let's call him a renaissance man--has worked gospel churches and sung a duet with Willie Nelson in the past. But for Gemini, McKnight puts on the smooth R&B moves and combines them with a seen- and done-it adult urban side, a style that People magazine affirms is, "Sophisticated soul ... as smooth as satin sheets."
The opening track, "Stay With Him," is an an cappella/doo-wop track that highlights McKnight's vocal prowess. It's followed by the album's two big hits, which come loaded upfront: the mischievous ode to secret love, "What We Do Here" and the heartbreakingly romantic jam, "Everytime You Go Away." "Everything I Do" is also a love-sexy, Prince-style song of seduction. "Stay" is another playful, bedroom romp with a jazz feel. "Come Back" is a funky song of devotion to a lost love.
"She" describes a dream woman and features rapper Talib Kweli, plus a lowdown, deep-soul sound. N'awlin's represents when Juvenile and Skip, plus Akon, join McKnight on "Whatcha Gonna Do?" arguably the toughest track on the album.
The fellow in "Grown Man Business" gets busy in the bedroom while the guy in "Here With You" is a little more subtle in his approach. "All Over Now" sticks to an upbeat, pop/R&B vibe.
The disc winds down with the quiet and sly soulfulness of "Your Song," a prime example of McKnight's classy, sophisticated side, while "Me & You" is his homage to the sacred.
With McKnight, it's all about the love, you can be sure of that, though whether it's temporary or long-term romance, McKnight's heart belongs to his music first. Yet in true Gemini fashion, he manages both sides of himself -- like a pro.
By Daisy Duarte