Usher is back!
And in more ways than the literal, if the material played at his London listening session is anything to go by.
The R&B superstar assembled a who’s who of the UK media at the trendy central London venue last night (March 22nd) for an exclusive playback of tracks he’s been cooking up for his new album.
That Grape Juice was in the house and quizzed the man himself on what the LP will be serving up.
Get the full scoop on the follow-up to 2010’s ‘Raymond vs Raymond’ after the jump!
Please note, as tracks are still in finishing stages, no titles were provided. Just played.
Track #1 – Climax: Need we say more?
Track #2 – Unnamed: Dance-heavy. Synth-heavy. Evocative of ‘DJ Got Us Falling In Love’.
Track #3 – Looking For Myself (TBC): Wholly “different” for Usher and unlike anything we’ve thus far from him. A guitar-driven, bouncy, Urban-meets-Pop mid-tempo. Solid.
Track #4 – Take That Dive (TBC): Produced by Rico Love (as per his trademark “turn the lights on”). A distinctly R&B mid-tempo with a pulsating “thump”. Great vocal production in the way of layering and texture. Boasts an anthemic chorus.
Track #5 – Unnamed: Perhaps the most “interesting” cut of the bunch, its Caribbean-flavoured production presents a unique backdrop for Usher’s patois inspired delivery. “Oh na, this woman put a hex on me. She finna put that sex on me”. Great track.
Track #6 – Let Me See (TBC): As became a trend with the latter cuts, this whimsical number seemingly offered up a number of songs in one. Beginning like a quiet storm of sorts (think Kelly Rowland‘s ‘Motivation’), the track builds into a busy climax.
Track #7 – Unnamed: Easily the most “radio-ready” of the tracks, this is clearly geared at the dancefloor. Heavy on the Pop gloss, this features a pronounced “stomp”, as the singer belts laid-back lyrics “show my what you come her for”. A definite party/ club cut.
Track #8 – Unnamed: Urban-Dance at its premium, balanced best. While lyrically not offering much, the pulsating production takes centre-stage here. Usher infectiously sings “I hope you’re ready to go all night. Let me hear you say “oh baby”, “oh baby”, “oh baby”. An uptempo if we’ve heard one, the bridge sees things slow right down into border-line ballad territory, building into a euphoric last chorus. Epic and a “must” for the single treatment.
Track #9 – Unnamed: Clearly, the best was saved until last. As this uptempo was an absolute banger (and received a unanimous round of applause). Best characterised as schizophrenic, this Electro-Pop-Urban fusion effortlessly weaves three tracks into one. Leaving no confusion as to the song’s agenda, the star sings “we came to party up, we came to party up” over the Ibiza ready chorus. A monster smash.
Immediately palpable is that Usher has re-embraced his R&B roots. Indeed, fans of his Urban offerings will be pleased to discover that current single ‘Climax’ isn’t a fluke. Present on the project are a vast number of markedly “Urban” cuts. And while recent efforts haven’t been wholly Pop affairs, they’ve arguably lacked in single-worthy R&B numbers. A relative issue which has been consciously remedied this go round.
Talking to That Grape Juice at the event, the Grammy winner said: “I really wanted to bring back the soulfulness this time. And yet do so from a different perspective. A perspective of growth”.
To help craft such material, the singer tells That Grape Juice that he has enlisted Rico Love, Salaam Remi, Luke Steel, Swedish House Mafia, Diplo, among others.
And while Urban is where the heart is, it’s important to stress that the 33 year old hasn’t ditched dancefloor. And why would he? The likes of ‘OMG’ and ‘DJ Got Us Falling In Love’ serve as some of his biggest hits yet. As such, tracks in vein of both also appear.
* Contrary to erroneous reports, the album is not titled ‘The Shanterance’. Prayer works.
* A title has not been decided, as of yet.
And there, friends, you have it. Lookout for an Usher take-over this Summer! You ready?