Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

John Legend goes seductively old-school for 'Love in the Future'

There's a retro movement in R&B these days, loverboys such as Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Frank Ocean dipping into the smooth, soulful '60s and '70s for inspiration. It's proved pop-smart, profitable.

And now here comes the new John Legend record, the epic baby-makin' music of Love in the Future, a mood-setter co-produced with a startling calm by, among others, Kanye West. Legend, however, is a retroist with a twist. He's not trying to sound like Marvin Gaye or Barry White at all; he's not into biting styles, although he'll throw a sepia-toned sample in now and then.

His talent, his vibe is innately, seductively old-school anyway, maybe more than any R&B star today. This is how they did it back in the day, baby. He takes his time, his gorgeous, if curiously weathered, croon always in the front of a mix that would rather get the point across than overload with trickery. He doesn't want to fight or provoke; Legend wants to kiss you all over, girl.

Thanks to her social-media addiction, her smartaleck wit and her looks, Chrissy Teigen, Legend's supermodel fiancee, has become a star herself since her man's last album, 2010's Wake Up!, a socially conscious collaboration with the Roots. Their hush-hush wedding should go down any day now. As a result, this album is naturally, essentially about her, which makes it even more of a romantic powder keg.

A few special guests show up on Love in the Future, including rapper Rick Ross, in an amusing Lothario role, on head-nod first single Who Do We Think We Are. Neo-soulster Seal appears on We Loved It, which can only be found on the album's deluxe edition but is well worth the cash if only to hear those incandescent voices intertwine.

For the most part, though, this is purely Legend's show, and his voice is a marvel. He's from Ohio, but there's an island lilt in there among the whiskey smoke, a combination that has helped him nab nine Grammy Awards so far. This album doesn't know when to quit, but credit Legend for keeping you hooked.

Just listen to the piano ballad All of Me, a sorta-sequel to his hit Ordinary People. This doozy is headed for wedding-song status, and Legend, who comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall Nov. 4, delivers the weeper with a restrained elegance. "You're my end and my beginning / Even when I lose, I'm winning." It keeps coming: "How many times do I have to tell you / Even when you're crying you're beautiful, too." Are you writing this down, boys? Legend's doing you a favor.

As for Kanye, he's crazy but he's smart. He may need Auto Tune to sing, but Legend sure doesn't. So he creates open spaces for that voice. On The Beginning..., 'Ye loops a chilly Sara Bareilles piano line, adds a few beats and lets Legend take care of the rest. The producer gets more rambunctious on the steam-drill drive of Made to Love, but the album is so lush, and occasionally close to nodding off to dreamland, it needs a fun get-down track here and there. Legend might be the only person on the planet who can truly soothe Kanye West. That's not just seduction skills, gang. That's supernatural.

Comments
Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Brush your teeth with Jack Daniel's and put on your grandpa's hand-me-downs, because Kesha and Macklemore are teaming up for a summer tour.The pop outcasts-turned-heroes will hit the road for a 30-city trek that includes a stop at Tampa's MidFlorida ...
Published: 12/11/17
Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

John Mayer is on the mend, and Dead and Company are making plans to get back on the road.The Grateful Dead-honoring supergroup has rescheduled several concerts postponed by Mayer's emergency appendectomy this week, including a Dec. 7 date at Orlando'...
Published: 12/08/17
Clearwater Sea-Blues lineup: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ZZ Ward, more coming to Coachman Park

Clearwater Sea-Blues lineup: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ZZ Ward, more coming to Coachman Park

A handful of artists are about to put the blues back into the Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival.Blues guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Ana Popovic will headline the 2018 Sea-Blue Festival, Feb. 24-25 at Coachman Park in Clearwater. Fiery singers ZZ Wa...
Published: 12/08/17
SoundBytes: Senses Fail, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, YoungBoy Never Broke Again and more

SoundBytes: Senses Fail, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, YoungBoy Never Broke Again and more

— Senses Fail is coming to the Orpheum in Tampa on March 6, along with Reggie and the Full Effect, Have Mercy and Household. Tickets are $16 and up. Click here.— Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox will perform at the Tampa Theatre on Apri...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
The Band Perry drops out of Florida Strawberry Festival

The Band Perry drops out of Florida Strawberry Festival

Tickets went on sale for the 2018 Florida Strawberry Festival Thursday, but if you were hoping to see the Band Perry, think twice before you purchase.The band has canceled its March 3 performance at the Strawberry Festival, according to organizers. N...
Published: 12/07/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: 98 Degrees, David Crosby, Petula Clark

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: 98 Degrees, David Crosby, Petula Clark

PACKAGE DELIVERY: 98 Degrees Oh, the weather outside is far from frightful — that’s one of the perks of December in Florida, you know. But inside the Mahaffey Theater on Friday, it’ll be 98 Degrees and steamy. The Brothers Lachey w...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Dead and Company postpone Thursday’s Orlando concert after John Mayer’s emergency appendectomy

Dead and Company postpone Thursday’s Orlando concert after John Mayer’s emergency appendectomy

If you had to guess which member of Dead and Company might have an emergency medical issue that would force the postponement of several shows, you might guess Bob Weir, right? Or maybe Mickey Hart or Bill Kreutzmann?Nope. It's John Mayer.The guitaris...
Published: 12/06/17
Jason Mraz coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Jason Mraz coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Jason Mraz is coming from the Great White Way to the Sunshine City.The pop singer-songwriter will embark on a solo acoustic tour next spring that includes several stops in Florida — including a March 17 date at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Peter...
Published: 12/06/17
Photos: Lil Pump gets his ‘Gucci Gang’ lit at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa

Photos: Lil Pump gets his ‘Gucci Gang’ lit at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa

Teenage Miami rap phenomenon Lil Pump packed the Ritz Ybor last week, bringing hundreds of members of his Gucci Gang to Tampa.It was an all-too-brief show — he went on late and left early, spending only a short time on stage — but the Tim...
Published: 12/05/17
Petula Clark talks about the enduring magic of ‘Downtown,’ her first U.S. tour and more

Petula Clark talks about the enduring magic of ‘Downtown,’ her first U.S. tour and more

Petula Clark needs no reminder of her recent 85th birthday."Oh, please," she sighed. "I haven't celebrated my birthday for many, many years. The problem is, sometimes I think, Ah, I've got away with that! Then suddenly, there are people singing Happy...
Published: 12/05/17