Though it doesn't exactly live up to its name, Legend manages to capture the optimistic sprit of Barack Obama in addition to his mastery of soul, pop and hip-hop in this album.

John Legend’s third album sees him delicately balanced between soul, chart pop and hip-hop, with an added lyrical positivity that reflects the current optimism inspired by Barack Obama. In fact, the cheesy ‘If You’re Out There’ is a free download from Obama’s website. Allusions to such key Obama catchwords as ‘change’, ‘future’ and ‘destiny’, not to mention the syrupy chorus, might render this track somewhat of an anomaly if McCain triumphs.

Elsewhere Legend hitches his wagon to some top acts of the musical kind. ‘No Other Love’ sees him reggaefying with Estelle, and the sinuous ‘Quickly’ features Brandy. The strutting ‘Greenlight’ evokes Kelis’s ‘Millionaire’ (and also includes a contribution from André 3000 who all but upstages him), and ‘Cross The Line’ is a worthy showcase of Legend’s soulful voice, with touches of Stevie Wonder here and there. ‘There With You’ adds a subtle Latino undertow beneath his mellow tones, but on other tracks Legend comes across as disengaged and merely workmanlike.

Legend’s strong point, apart from his velvet voice, is his beguiling way with a melody, and he makes a welcome respite from some of his chest-beating contemporaries. But it’s hard not to suspect that his true role as an evolver may reveal itself on future albums rather that this one.


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