Usher Digs Deep on Looking 4 Myself

Diamond days

Usher's knack for singing ballads is showcased well here, though he wears anguish better than a Don Juan hat. "Trading Places," off 2008's Here I Stand, was a decent-sounding slow jam slightly ruined by references to precoital Chinese food (hope there's nothing too spicy in that order!) and the word "ass" as the song's implied final utterance. This time out, there's "Dive," a stuttery, sweet-sounding song that will test its listeners' tolerance for references to moisture of all kinds. ("I see the walls are looking like they might precipitate," he sings at one point.)

Does Usher find himself on this album, as its title suggests? In some senses, yes; he certainly wears the simpler, lighter impulses of the new-school producers he has chosen to work with as well as he did the bluster of "Yeah!" and "Burn." It probably won't hearken back to the diamond era sales-wise—to do that these days, you have to seem "authentic," sing of nothing but heartache and operate solely in a retro idiom, even when you're working with pop's most cloying chart presences—but it establishes him as someone who's willing to push his musical efforts far past the four-on-the-floor-banger boundaries currently boxing in so many other mega-selling artists.

mjohnston@villagevoice.com

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2 comments
maura
maura

It hit the nine million mark in this country last month. (RIAA certifications only count US sales.)

Skky Ifudu
Skky Ifudu

Ummmm.... didn't Adele's 21 go diamond months ago?

 
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