That Grape Juice was in the house at London’s swanky ‘Hospital’ venue last night (July 8th) for Ne-Yo’s exclusive ‘Libra Scale’ listening session.
Hosted by the man himself, 6 tracks from the album (his fourth) were showcased to the audience of select UK media outlets.
Check out our take on what the singer-songwriter is serving up this go round…
Prior to the album’s playback, a personable and witty Ne-Yo outlined a short-story, the narrative of which is threaded through each of the LP’s songs (and will be depicted in their accompanying videos)
The story centres on misadventures of ‘The Gentleman’, a trio consisting of Clyde, Leroy, and Jerome (played by Ne-Yo). After encountering a mysterious figure, the ‘men are granted everything they could ever want – money, fame, cars, girls…and superpowers; the only catch being that they cannot fall in love.
For Clyde and Leroy, this proves to be an easy pre-condition to adhere to. However, it is Ne-Yo’s character, Jerome, who finds this a daunting task, after falling for Pretty Sinclair – a vivacious no nonsense stunner.
Having finally captured Sinclair’s heart, Jerome sleeps with her – only for her to suffer an adverse reaction after contracting a strain of his super-powers. This effectively drives her crazy, transforming her into a monster named ‘Diamond Eye’, who sets about destroying the Gotham-like city.
Disappointed in Jerome, the mysterious figure re-appears to offer him one of two options – allow Diamond Eye AND Pretty Sinclair to die, and the city is saved or Pretty Sinclair lives, all the damage Diamond Eye has done is reversed, but Jerome must die. We’re left with Jerome weighing up the decision on a ‘Libra Scale’…hence the album’s title.
Following?! Even I’m surprised I remembered all of that. More on my take on the story after the song previews…
One In A Million:
Led by a hypnotic, tribal beat this resonated well with all in attendance. The hard-hitting production, which is a welcome departure from Ne-Yo’s established sound, was complimented by his trademark harmonies. The lady at the heart of the song is serenaded with lines such as “one thing is for certain…only you can do what you do”. Great track!
The most markedly Pop / Crossover of the selection of tracks played, ‘She Is’ also serves as the song with the most commercial potential. Very reminiscent of previous hits such as ‘Mad’ – whether that’s a good or bad thing is down to interpretation. Lyrics include “now I’m in love and I didn’t want to be…all because of she.”
Cause I Said So:
Undeniably the standout song of the night, this 70’s funk-inspired cut is just screaming for the single treatment. With its pulsating production and all-round hotness, there’s no doubt this is destined for the dance-floor. Hot, hot, hot! Lyrics for the track, which he deemed Pretty Sinclair’s theme-tune, include “she could reach inside your chest, pull out your soul”
What Have I Done:
As with most collection of tracks, not all can be winners, cue ‘What Have I Done’. This early Michael Jackson-inspired number is an album-cut at best, and certainly left us asking him the same question after listening to it. Filler.
‘Libra Scale’ certainly boasts an intriguing and ambitious concept, which Ne-Yo should be commended for when considering the sameness’ of the music industry of today. What’s more, musically, he remains ever consistent (save for a few tracks).
However, the album’s story risks making the material come up short due to its lack of lyrical vividness or explicitness. By that, I mean – Ne-Yo informed us at the start of the playback that he was inspired by Michael Jackson’s out-of-the-box concepts to do something different. Yet unlike Jackson, he serves up little in the vein of ‘Annie are you ok?!’ or “the kid is not my son” – lyrics which forced listeners to create ‘imaginary worlds’ and replay the lyrics – as if they were there – in their heads. Rather, it feels as though he’s presenting a collection of (albeit good songs), which are largely about the same treaded-on subject matter (living the life, love etc), and tying them together with an interesting, yet somewhat confused story.
Still, a commendable effort, which has us anticipating the album in its entirety.