Usher’s new album is Hard II Love.’ It’s the long-awaited 8th studio album from the multi-Grammy winning R&B superstar, arriving four years after 2012’s ‘Looking 4 Myself.’ Critics are weighing in and you can see a roundup of reviews here.
Considering how quickly trends emerge and fade in pop music, four years is a long time. His seventh album, ‘Looking 4 Myself’ received nearly universal critical acclaim. And, as the title might suggest, it was one of many albums that has seen the Atlanta-based crooner plumbing his own life story. His biggest album to date, ‘Confessions’ of 2004 sold more than 10 million copies. That was long before this recent spate of “confessional” albums from such stars as Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Nick Jonas.
Usher announced the album only a few weeks before its release date, during his appearance on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ where he was promoting the movie ‘Hands of Stone, the Roberto Durán biopic that sees him portraying legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. In fact, one of the tracks, ‘Champion,’ appears both on the movie soundtrack and on Usher’s new album.
It’s been a long four years, yes, but along the way, Usher dropped a few singles including “Good Kisser” and” “She Came To Give It To You.” He also made a foray into politics with “Chains” addressing police violence.
Now the album is here — streaming on TIDAL days before its official release date, September 16th — and the critics are weighing in.
“….He has all the gifts and skills he needs, starting with a genuinely expressive voice that encompasses an ardent croon, a melting falsetto and quick, singsong declamation that puts him at the border of rapping. Usher also has a canny psychological sensitivity in his lyrics, a dancer’s physical grace and an ear for up-to-the-minute electronic productions that warm to his voice. “Hard II Love” is filled with synthesizer bass lines and the shallow, spattering percussion of trap, and Usher uses his share of Auto-Tune and choppy digital edits; his songs are aimed at radio. …..” –New York Times
“….Usher says that it took about three years to release Hard II Love, and in that time the sound of pop music has changed dramatically. He’s paid just enough attention to pop’s new ideas to come out with an album that looks forward while remaining true to what’s made him one of R&B’s most reliable stars….” –Rolling Stone
“….Usher strays from the electronic dance music that plagued the last few years of his career on the long-awaited Hard II Love. It’s like he sat in the booth and said, ‘Gather ’round children of the game, here’s how you make good music.’ And with their noses pointed to the sky, sitting Indian style, they listened intently. He is to this R&B generation what Kobe Bryant represents to the NBA (sans retirement). After all, this is the man who blessed us with Confessions, My Way and 8701…..” –Hello Beautiful
Check back for more reviews. Meanwhile, you can see Usher’s ‘Hard II Love’ album cover art and music videos below!
Pictures: PR Photos