By William Martinez Special to The Chronicle
Brian McKnight has been recording albums since the early 1990s and he still has that beautiful, silky voice that we all know and love. Most people know Brian McKnight from his hits, “Back at One” or “Anytime.” Both of these singles were released in the late ‘90s during the most successful period of McKnight’s career.His most recent three albums were disappointments in terms of critical acclaim and sales. One could argue that R&B/soul music has changed since the 1990s and McKnight’s songs don’t resonate with a large enough audience anymore. I don’t buy it. His past three albums (“Ten,” “Evolution of a Man” and “Just Me”) do not sound like classic Brian McKnight. Each album has its own vibe, but that vibe is overall too fast-paced and contains wrongly placed beats and nonsensical lyrics. That being said, “More Than Words” is the 12th album of McKnight’s career and is not negatively comparable to his past three albums. The album’s songs are at times catchy and beautifully written, but most of the album seems rushed and too forced. “More Than Words” will definitely satisfy, but it’s far from a classic.The two singles released from the album were “Sweeter” and “4th of July.” Both songs are upbeat and pretty groovy. Although these tunes are definitely not typical Brian McKnight, he still doesn’t disappoint. Classic McKnight fans will enjoy “Livewithoutyou” and “Get U 2 Stay.” These songs are both calming, yet carry a modern funk that is very likable.
Most of the songs on the album blend together and do not produce a memorable vibe. In “The Front The Back The Side,” McKnight features his son, Miko, and the two reference social media websites for the song’s entirety. This song, as well as “Nothing But A Thang,” “More Than Words” and “Made For Love,” does nothing to excite a listener. “More Than Words” has a very eclectic selection of soul jams, but the flow or overall feel of the album is heavily lacking. In other words, a thought-provoking record requires that the artist use a central theme to focus his or her songs. The lack of fluidity of the album is apparent in its inability to focus.Even McKnight acknowledged the unplanned surprise “More Than Words” really was. According to an interview he had with Singersroom.com in February of this year:"I really didn’t think I would have this much to say anytime soon. And when the label came to me to say, ‘Would you like to do another record,’ I said, ‘Well I got these sixteen songs sitting here, so let’s do it.’”
Although it seems that “More Than Words” should have been a little better planned, the album is not a disappointment. In fact, I think Brian finally found the new style he’s been looking for. I think with better promotion, planning and a more central theme, he can remain the top R&B/soul artist we all know he is. Most people would agree that McKnight’s old music is better, and although I would agree, his new style isn’t bad, in fact, if better executed, I could kind of dig it.