Release Date: Nov 22, 2010
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Pop, Rap, R&B, Soul, Urban, Pop/Rock, Adult Contemporary R&B, Contemporary R&B
This is ostensibly a concept album about a garbageman who develops superpowers right before falling in love (no joke), which explains the slow jam about telekinetic sex. For the most part, it?s easiest to enjoy Ne-Yo?s fourth set of well-built love songs on their own merits. On Libra Scale, he remains a charming falsetto vocalist with strong echoes of Michael Jackson, and his knack for romantic lyrics and sweet melodies is more than enough to entertain without a far-fetched story arc.
In Ne-Yo’s latest video for “One in a Million”, the singer begs and pleads with a woman who is made out to be his object of affection by singing sultry words (“You’re so one in a million / You are / Baby you’re the best I ever had” is a chorus that would make any female skip a breath) and by displaying dance moves smoother than a Caramello candy bar; and performing out of this world tricks (at one point, he somehow floats a rose through the air, landing it in front of her face). It’s cute, really. And even though she ultimately runs to a cab after she watches him dance with another woman, you can’t help but root for the R&B crooner, even if he is stepping out on this proposed fed-up female.
I apologize, Ne-Yo, for making light of your chivalry last time around. Year of the Gentlemen remains a pretty uneven listen once it gets past the hits “Closer” and “Miss Independent,” and deference as a default emotion still only stretches so far before the listener is likely to snap. But in retrospect, I didn’t give you or your collaborators enough credit for crafting both smooth, listenable pop hooks and, as I said in 2008, “vocal harmonies I expect Ne-Yo to recycle when he begins his collaborations with Michael Jackson.” Well, never has the time been better for the heir apparent to Jackson’s throne to step up his game.
Initially starting out as a budding songwriter for A-list artists, Ne-Yo is now the toast of the scene with chart-topping singles and albums to boot. The pinnacle may have been his 2008 effort Year Of Gentleman, where chivalry prospered throughout the disc. Two years later, Ne-Yo has yet another concept that comes in the form of Libra Scale. Accompanied by a handful of long-form music videos that bring Ne-Yo’s vision to life, the album tells the story of Jerome, a garbage man that gains fame and power but loses love in return.
It seems that R&B superstar Ne-Yo is feeling a bit jealous of all the attention Lady Gaga and Kanye West's high-concept pop projects have been getting, so he's come up with his own so-crazy-it-just-might-work concept. Drawing on his affection for comic books, he's imagined a bizarre narrative involving garbage men with superpowers that's supposed to serve as a metaphorical meditation on fame, money and love. Yeah, we're not sold on it either.
If you didn't know this was a concept album involving a trio of superhero dustmen and a femme fatale called Pretti Sinclair – you really couldn't make it up – you might well think it was just another collection of smooth R&B from this agreeable singer. Despite Ne-Yo being absolutely serious about this – apparently, he spent three months alone developing the backstory – it doesn't feel markedly different from his first three albums. His strength remains his fluid melody-writing, which saves many an otherwise mundane track here: Makin' a Movie, for example, may be overproduced, but its flow is hugely catchy; Champagne Life (in which the dustmen receive their super-powers, though lines like "Welcome to the champagne life, where trouble is a bubble in the champagne glass" give the impression of a plain old escapist party tune) is a sleek ride across a lush landscape of strings and a backing choir.
The gentleman turns heartbreaker on his fourth album. Melissa Bradshaw 2010 Ne-Yo’s new album complicates the persona established on his last full length. With 2008’s Year of the Gentleman the singer/producer turned his talent for a saccharine, infectious soul ballad (see So Sick from his 2006 debut album) into making himself the most desirable man in the world.
NE-YO “Libra Scale” (Def Jam). If albums had a thread count, the one on Ne-Yo’s “Libra Scale” would be more than 1,000. Plush is the watchword for this album, the fourth by Shaffer Chimere Smith, a k a Ne-Yo..