Musiq Soulchild | Musiqinthemagic

Album Review: Musiq Soulchild | Musiqinthemagic
by Brent Faulkner

After nearly a three year hiatus since the fall 2008 release of
Onmyradio, Musiq Soulchild returns in top form on his under-the-radar
2011 Atlantic release Musiqinthemagic. On Musiqinthemagic, the formula
is mostly unchanged for the most part, though Musiq ‘amps’ up the
‘soul-factor’ on this album more pointedly than his last go-around which
was the talented vocalist’s least successful (undeservedly) effort.
Regardless of commercial expectations, aspirations, or successes, as
always, the quality of Musiq’s sixth LP speaks for itself.

There are no misses and as always, consistency plays a major role in Musiq’s music.

“Anything,” featuring a tasteful guest spot from Swizz Beatz starts off
the effort strongly with an inherent 1980s vibe about it. The
funky-synthesized sensibilities play up Musiq’s strengths as a vocalist,
particular his ability to pack a mean punch with such low-key vocal
performances. Much like vocal contemporaries Jaheim and Tank, the ‘ease’
and simplicity if the iCal performance is a strong suit. “Single” is
just as strong, featuring the urban sounds of electric piano,
synthesized brass lines, and solid songwriting all working in tandem
with one another. Musiq sounds so refined, just like the gentleman’s
persona he evades on “Single.”

“Sayido” finds the vocalist stretching his pipes into his beautiful
upper register, something that Musiq has seemed to keep ‘in reserve’
since 2003’s “Whoknows.” The songwriting is as chivalrous as always
given its marriage-laden theme. Follow-up cut “Lovecontract” has an
excellent 1960s vintage soul sound about it – think Raphael Saadiq’s
“Keep on Marchin'” for a modern comparison. The horns and the drum
programming aid in the overall effect.

“Silver&Gold” uses John Legend’s songwriting and production prowess
to help it to ascend over-the-top (mainstay producers Jerry “Wonda”
Duplessis and Arden “Keyz” Altino contribute here as well).
“Waitingstill” is comparable to the sound of “Halfcrazy,” though falls
short of the glory of that benchmark. It is second-rate to it five
predecessors, but still a solid, worthwhile cut.

“Backtowhere” showcases the beauty of Musiq’s lower register. The
songwriting never departs from the genuine: “Back to where, back to
where I was in love with you, there’s nothing I can do, it’s no fair I
can’t go back to where I was in love with you…” “Dowehaveto” finds the
production changing hands to Jessie “Coparal” Wilson, who does a find
job of creating a beautiful pallette for Musiq to sing on top of.
“Befriends” is valedictory given it’s soulful sound, thanks to producer
Jack Splash. The production work is an elite effort characterized by an
array of guitars and throwback soul sounds. A simple but telling hook
makes “Befriends” a high watermark.

“Yes” is solid, though “Medicine” is even stronger given it’s moody,
introspective production work. “Likethesun” closes the effort solidly.
“Likethesun” is modern, though a more tasteful, less radical closer than
“Radio” off of Onmyradio.

Overall. Musiqinthemagic is a well assembled sixth album from the
neo-soul veteran. Some may argue a change of pace or formula might
benefit the singer. Perhaps truer words may be “if it ain’t broke then
why fix it?” Musiq is an old-soul at the top of his game.

Brent Faulkner

The Urban Music Scene

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