All True Man
Alexander O’Neal’s four previous releases have established him as a postmodern love-man — a smooth balladeer with enlightened attitudes about men and women, as well as sensuous rhythms courtesy of his career-long producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. All True Man makes gestures toward something new — on ”Time Is Running Out,” the love-man gets socially conscious about the environment; on ”The Yoke,” he urges listeners to throw off the weight of oppression — racial, sexual, political. But thank goodness, on most of the album Jam and Lewis simply let O’Neal be O’Neal: serenading the listener with his thick-throated, raspy croon; adjusting his phrasing for the fast, new jack swing-y numbers; settling into a sexy moan for the slow ones. The title song is his absolute triumph to date, a proclamation of masculinity that’s discursive, complex, never sexist, always sexy. And the fact that it is the title song means he knows how good it is, which speaks well for his glowing self-awareness.