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R&B - Released August 30, 2013 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 26, 2018 | Columbia

John Legend did not need any prodding to record a holiday album and is in the spirit throughout A Legendary Christmas. Produced by Raphael Saadiq, with whom Legend collaborated on Once Again highlight "Show Me," the LP is joyously nostalgic, decked with strings, horns, and a trio of background vocalists including secret weapon Sy Smith. The majority of the material dates from the '40s through the '70s, while the six originals are similarly styled. Most of the new songs hold their own. The dashing "Wrap Me Up in Your Love" could pass for a vocalese version of a song intended for a Sky High Productions holiday album shelved since 1974, as it resembles something Fonce and Larry Mizell might've whipped up for Bobbi Humphrey or Donald Byrd. Another standout, "Bring Me Love," fits in with the thoughtful mix of Motown numbers: "What Christmas Means to Me" (popularized by Stevie Wonder, heard here on harmonica), "Give Love on Christmas Day" (recorded by Jackson 5, coincidentally co-written by Fonce Mizell), and "Purple Snowflakes" (originally cut by Marvin Gaye but not released until 1992, 27 years after the original composition was reworked/repurposed as the single "Pretty Little Baby"). Legend brought the ham to the recordings of the best-known selections. These include the Esperanza Spalding duet "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and especially "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)." They're straightforward renditions, whereas Saadiq and Jamelle Adisa's upbeat, uptown soul-style arrangement of "Silver Bells" brims with energy, and Legend beams through it like he can't wait to make Another Legendary Christmas. The booklet, filled with Legend family photos, make a strong case for physical over digital. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released December 2, 2016 | Columbia

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R&B - Released June 5, 2014 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released April 6, 2018 | Columbia

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R&B - Released October 11, 2013 | Getting Out Our Dreams - Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Get Lifted netted John Legend a major hit ("Ordinary People") that will be heard on adult contemporary stations and throwback-oriented programs as long as they exist, platinum status, and three Grammy titles -- including the potential kiss of death that is Best New Artist. If Legend hadn't linked up with Kanye West or any other connected industry figure, he'd probably be well into a string of independent albums and would likely have a fanatical cult following through persistent touring. It doesn't take much exposure to his songs to sense this alternate scenario. No one can deny that Legend has had considerable help from his collaborators, and he continues to get that support this time out -- there's West, will.i.am, Sa-Ra, Raphael Saadiq, Plant Life's Jack Splash, and a massive crew of session musicians, but it's already evident that Legend only needs a piano to get by. Even with its many producers, Once Again is much more focused than Get Lifted, and the quality of its songs is equally high. Legend's obviously doing everything in his power to not fall off. He pours so much of himself into each one of these songs, whether they're about flings with groupies or breakups with long-term girlfriends, that the album can begin to wear around the eighth track. The songs flit back and forth between easygoing, butterflies-of-love-type sentiments and deep drama, with both sides expressed through similar levels of intensity. As much as anyone else, Legend would benefit from the recent (and generally welcomed) return of the 40-minute R&B album. If the album is missing something, it's a snappy, unapologetically swaggering track in the vein of Get Lifted's "Used to Love U," or perhaps a song or two that doesn't seem intent on displaying impressive musicality, but there are enough undeniably bright spots to please those who have already been won over. While Once Again might not get as much attention as its predecessor, it's more assured and sounds nothing like an experiment to see what sticks. Legend now knows exactly where he fits, and he's not holding back in the least. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released September 17, 2010 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released October 7, 2016 | Columbia

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R&B - Released February 2, 2015 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released October 27, 2008 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

Evolver is more clever and appealing as an album title than Dabbler, yet the latter would be much more emblematic of John Legend's third studio album. Legend is up-front about his lane changes, not just by admitting to the press that it does not sound like him, but also through the album's lead single. "Green Light," decked out in giddy synthesizers à la Paul McCartney's tolerated-or-loathed "A Wonderful Christmas Time" (or, OK, the glitziest part of Kanye West's "Flashing Lights"), sounds like an increasingly bad fit with each play, full of simpleminded gestures ("Dying to meet you/So let's mess around") while benefiting from André 3000's upstaging, off-the-cuff, don't-give-a-damn appearance. Following it is "It's Over," a relatively characteristic breakup song (albeit one where an Auto-Tuned West shows up to rhyme "kiddies" with "titties") that effectively sets the tone for the album's all-around erratic nature. There's a show-stopping ballad, a reggae-flavored Estelle feature, flashes of tropical lushness, a couple throwbacks to soul-informed soft rock, a clumsy track full of chunky synth riffs, a brave topical message song to close, and a couple other diversions throughout. The album's lack of focus would go down easier if a majority of the songs had the feeling and finesse of the highlights from Once Again and Get Lifted; the hooks aren't nearly as memorable and come off as forced, and Legend often sounds like he is being fed directions on what emotions to channel ("scorned, belligerent"; "heartbroken, twinkle in eyes") while remaining occupied by the satisfaction that comes with hearing what his vocal cords are capable of achieving. Easily the least accomplished of his albums, Evolver is nonetheless a refreshing change of sorts, for all its faults, at least as far as missteps are concerned. Safe, retraced steps from accomplished R&B artists are all too common, and this, if anything, is nothing of the sort. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released September 23, 2014 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released February 12, 2017 | Columbia

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R&B - Released December 6, 2005 | Getting Out Our Dreams - Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 30, 2018 | Masterworks

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R&B - Released March 22, 2017 | Columbia

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R&B - Released August 26, 2013 | SBCMG

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R&B/Soul - Released July 3, 2009 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released December 1, 2016 | Columbia

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 12, 2018 | Columbia

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R&B - Released December 2, 2015 | G.O.O.D. Music - Columbia