Time is on Usher’s side
R’b sensation Usher Raymond IV has gone through many life-changing events. In addition to releasing one of the best-selling albums of the decade, 2004’s Confessions, Usher has settled down, married and seen the birth of his first son. Usher used these experiences as inspiration for Here I Stand, released May 27, his first studio album in four years.
At face value, Here I Stand is a collection of songs that is no different than material found on Confessions, 8701 or even his debut album My Way. Despite the familiarity, the songs on Here I Stand reflect his newfound maturity as his writing is more focused on taking care of his family and fidelity.
On Here I Stand, Usher finds himself doing what he does best: creating tracks that are focused on sexuality.
Songs such as "Trading Places," "Love You Gently" and "This Ain’t Sex" should come as no surprise.
"This Ain’t Sex" is one of the more refined songs on the album. Aside from the trite lyrics, the song is very reminiscent of an early ’90s Michael Jackson.
Another standout track on the album is "Best Thing," which sees a guest verse from hip-hop’s finest, Jay-Z.
With a catchy hook and a very slick beat, "Appetite" is another perfectly crafted hit that could easily succeed in the mainstream.
Fatherhood has brought out a new perspective in the superstar’s life. In "Prayer For You," Usher sings a soulful melody to his infant son, who is heard cooing in the background. In it, he bares all as he sings, "You carry my name/ I pray that you’re better than me," lyrics sure to tug on a few heartstrings.
"Moving Mountains," a song with a beat suggestive of a Timbaland influence, is also slated to be a single. It’s one of Usher’s most impressive efforts to date. This track will be to Here I Stand what "Burn" was to Confessions. The song explores the struggles of a failing relationship and the effects on both parties.
An album with 17 songs is bound to have a little bit of filler. Songs such as the will.i.am produced "What’s Your Name?" and "Something Special" could have easily been left off of the album.
Considering the genre, the artist runs a very high risk of writing cliched lyrics. Songs such as "Trading Places" read more like Web log entries. The type of storytelling approach in "Trading Places" and "Love You Gently" do not seem to be Usher’s forte, and should be reserved for R. Kelly, who penned the popular narrated series Trapped in the Closet.
Aside from the minor setbacks, Here I Stand is a highly addictive and cohesive album, that takes influences from the best of modern and classic r’b. The impressive production line-up has also been beneficial to Usher. Fans of his previous albums should be able to find several gems on this album.
Growing up may have taken a toll on Usher’s personal life, but it has not altered his ability to create refreshing music.