With its gently shifting moods and curvy melodies, the music on Brian McKnight is black pop suitable for framing. McKnight’s glowing tenor slides along song lines with heartfelt abandon, dominating gentle poems of love with a maturity that belies his 22 years. Even an anxious new-jack jam like ”Yours” is nuanced with perky horns and honey harmonies, pounding home lustfulness but also warmer sentiments. On ”Is the Feeling Gone” the instrumentation suggests a smoky jazz club, while on the album’s only cover tune, Hall and Oates’ ”I Can’t Go for That,” the soundscape gets a bit raw but is still very dapper. McKnight may switch musical affinities from time to time, but he never trades in his style. Nothing is ever overstated, but one gets the message: McKnight is the most comforting R&B singer-songwriter to emerge since Keith Washington early last year.
- Brian McKnight