Updated: Jul 7, 2020
by Lauryn Hamilton, '21
American singer, songwriter, producer, actor and philanthropist has found many successes since his last album. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of music at Berklee College of Music, had second child with Chrissy Teigen, earned status of being one of the 15 people have a EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) after scoring the Emmy, and was last year's People’s Sexiest Man of the Year. The album Bigger Love, primarily recorded in 2019, comes on the back of these successes and likewise is a dynamic album filled with joy and love. Amongst the tense nature of the present with Covid-19 and political unarrest, Bigger Love offers the listener a stark contrast of reality and provides music for a dreamy love filled summer. Curiously absent however, is his 2019 protest song Preach.
The album kicks off with Ooh La , a 50s style bebop sample from The Flamingos, effortlessly combined with synth to make a modern romance song. The kind of song that you automatically save for that “special nights” playlist. Jumping to the next track, Legend takes us from the 50s groove to a 2000’s/ 90s R&B vibe. And with purposeful intent as samples from Dr. Dre’s The Next Episode intertwined with the guitar riffs. Legend’s sultry vocals laid on top of the sampled rap beat provides a smooth combo that is easy to sway to. It is this old school infused with modern synth that compromises the rest of the album, with expectations of title track, Bigger Love, and Don’t Walk Away which stray from Legend’s comfort zone and introduce an Afro Caribbean beats flair. While all the song centers around love, love of life, love of a romantic partner, the album is notably infused with different influences and personalities. Such as Jamaican singer Koffee in Don’t Walk Away, and blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr, in Wild.
The title song, Bigger Love which appears in the middle of the track list is perfectly named so, as it encompasses the theme of the album. That love can conquer all, “We got a bigger love, won’t ever give it up, no.” The album is swirled with optimism and love but occasionally fails to capture the rawness Legend has done in All of Me, or Right by You (For Luna). Conversations in the Dark, attempt to capture this but seemed to be oversaturated by the synth production. However, there is something about the beautiful simplicity of songs like Favorite Place, where “your lips are my favorite place” that excuse any lack of depth present in the songs.
Overall, this album shows the experimental side of John Legend while still providing the familiar butterflies of love songs prior. If you have the chance and want a reason to brighten your summer check out Bigger Love here on Spotify or Apple Music.
Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with the legend himself!