Review By: LeLe Symone
Unless you’re royalty or an heir to a fortune, you can’t find a lifestyle with any better perks than to be the child of a certified celebrity. Instant name recognition? Check. Regularly kicking it at premieres and award shows? Check. Access to extra cash and networking opportunities? Already. So it’s no wonder that Brian McKnight Jr. and younger brother Niko were all too stoked to work with their dad, Brian McKnight, out on the road and as co-writers and co-producers on his eleventh CD, Just Me. The results? Well…..sometimes you have to remember and apply the old creed, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
Since it’s the Brian McKnight we’re talking about here, the CD still turns out some pretty strong tracks: “Just Lemme Know” is warm and wistful, “Gimme Yo Love” is a saucy mid-tempo groove and “Fall,” the first single, portrays a romantic who’s reluctant to lose control and plunge into the depths of love with a new lady. One of the most intimate songs he’s ever recorded is the title track, where, in that soaring, silky tenor of his, admits his frailties as a man just as readily as his strengths: “I play the fool, have but one vice…I am not always very nice. I live my life onstage, on cue, I do the things I have to do.”
The rest of it, because it’s handled by amateurs, doesn’t always measure up: the guitar-fringed “Husband” could’ve been a hit, but they’re all trying too hard to go outside the box, and “Temptation,” a duet between the younger and elder Brians, should’ve punched up the delivery. And Lord help George Michael if he hears how sluggishly the man covered Wham!’s “Careless Whisper,” the man would take it personal.
The worthwhile bonus “Live” CD aside, Just Me doesn’t match up to the title and will probably be considered ‘essential listening’ only to his biggest and most die-hard fans. Being related to a musician may give you some of the skills and more opportunities to display them, but those who are still learning tricks of the trade shouldn’t necessarily tinker with an established relative’s style as a litmus test.