Usher has been around for nearly 20 years now and as a male artist has to be considered one of the greats now. In age where artists come and go he has been a constant having sold over 70 mil albums to date. Looking For Myself was released back in June this year(2012) and was the follow up to his last album Raymond vs Raymond and for me I think it was a return to fine form and also his fourth straight no1 album.
What I liked about this album was that Usher was wary of his music becoming too stale and the best musicians know exactly when to change it up and this was the time. Usher described the album as one that is experimental before the release and that's definitely what it is and in my eyes an experiment that succeeded. I like how many artists these days are experimenting with new sounds and simply not going ahead with what has worked in the industry and another good example is the Diddy Dirty Money album. For all the male R&B artists that are out there when it comes to the voice I really don't think there are any that compete with Usher. Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Justin Timberlake just don't cut it in terms of the pure singing
There is a real mix of tracks here from classic R&B, to electro through to dance and he has left no stone unturned however what I felt was slightly lacking was the ballads. There were a few but I didn't find them to be in the same league as his classics, but this is the only criticism as it is a strong album and I want to give a quick review for my favourite tracks.
Climax is one of Usher's all-time best tracks and the best example of the new sound he was trying to create. He really shows of with his vocals here being able to go over high and the beat is not a heavy beat as it is just lightly complements him. It is not a song about sex, but simply about when a relationship reaches its climax and the couple has to separate. It is a beautiful track.
Lemme see is one of the only tracks on the album featuring another artist and that artist in this case is Rick Ross. This is back to the more sex themed tracks that Usher is used to. Similarly to Climax he really shows off with his high notes. The beat has a techno vibe I the background and in regards to the video I guess it is pretty cool although a little disturbing when Rick Ross raps without his top off as well.
Now the track that the album is named after, this is a much more normal track in the sense that it is a little more pop style and I could imagine other artists sing it, but the lyrics I think are ones that many people can relate to. It is about where you are a better man when you have the right girl and without her you don't know who you are anymore. We have all been there at some stage or another. Plus the hook is very catchy.
On the deluxe edition there is the extra track which is by far my favourite on the album and that is I.F.U. It is a sound I have never heard before and Usher's voice is just supreme here. It has an awesome violin just before the hook and then Usher just does his thing. It is a very sex themed track, but he sings about how sex is just for strangers, and making love is for the ones who plan to stay together. I guess he has enough experience about these things.
Overall this is a very solid album, and not his best album he has released but it was one that was different to his others in a good way. It's not perfect but it fully deserved to get to no1 in US and has a vast array of tracks that he previously wouldn't have released on his other albums as they wouldn't have suited the style of the album, with confessions being a primary example.
I am a big usher fan, and have his old albums like confession and 9701 in which he was predominantly R&B and I absolutely love them. It did seem more recently he had abandoned his roots and was doing a lot more dance tracks so I haven't got his previous album but on the radio quite a few of his songs he released off this album "Looking 4 Myself" sounded a lot more like his old authentic stuff and he seemed to have struck a balance. Don't get me wrong I love dance music, but him having an entire album with the same sound seemed odd coming from Usher especially as he has been around for over 10 years now and has always been R&B and seemed to just be going along with a trend as opposed to what his fan base knows him for and the genre I would have thought was more his style. Nevertheless I had a search on ebay and mentioned to my sister that I wanted it, who in turn told my partner and he surprised me one evening and had bought it for me! Yippee!
It came in a cardboard type sleeve, with the disc inserted inside and a leaflet with the album info. It has a nice design, with a deep blue background and Usher's face plastered all over the cover from a side angle. This abum was released on June 8 2012, and is mainly produced by Usher himself. It boasts quite a plentiful track list:
1. Can't Stop Won't Stop ft Will.I.Am
4. I Care for U
5. Show Me
6. Lemme See ft Rick Ross
7. Twisted ft Pharrell
9. What Happened to U
10. Looking 4 Myself
12. Lessons for the Lover
13. Sins of My Father
I also have the deluxe bonus edition which has 4 more tracks:
16. Say the Words
17. 2nd Round
18. Hot Thing
The album is a mixture of both R&B and also up tempo dance tracks and I think with this album Usher has hit gold and struck a perfect balance where the songs compliment each other and it doesn't feel too sporadic. It doesn't sound like a confusion of songs and as I listen to the album (most predominantly in my car!) I appreciate the variety which the album offers and I sing my little heart out driving along!
In the "dance" section we have songs like Euphoria, Scream which he released and the opening track "Can't stop, won't stop". I often feel like the opening song to an album will define whether I like the album or not, as if it's awful I generally won't want to continue listening and will skip through tracks. With "Can't stop, won't stop" I literally can't keep still and can imagine myself hearing this in a club and fist pumping all the way through! It features Will.I.Am and I feel his artistic talent oozes out over the melody and use of auto-tuning electro chords which Will loves to use. Him and Usher really do have a winning combination in terms of making good songs, especially considering their success on a previous record - O.M.G.
Euphoria is an equal favourite of mine on this album (along with Lemme see) and has the beats of Swedish House Mafia who Usher collaborated with on this album twice (also on the track Numb.) I am a big fan of Swedish House Mafia as they make absolutely great house music. I have this song on constant repeat and it literally makes me want to go out and have a good time. Usher has named his upcoming tour for 2013 Euphoria which I think is apt and I really can't wait to go, as when they play this song I'll be jumping up and down like a nutter lol!
In line with an R & B collection of songs on this album we have his releases like Climax, and my ultimate favourite "Lemme see". Lemme see is a great platform for showcasing Usher's outstanding vocals as he hit's some high notes he hasn't done in an awful long time. When he first started in the business Usher's voice hadn't broken yet and he had quite a range and pitch to his voice, which inevitably changed after some time as he matured. He feared he would lose his record deal after this but he maintained a successful career and he still has an amazing voice to show for it. Lemme see is a real slow, seductive song (but don't worry this album isn't explicit, and doesn't have a Parental Advisory sticker!) and Usher really makes it work. I am quite a fan of Rick Ross (although not to the great extent as my sister or anything!) and his rap compliments the song and gives it some authentic R&B hip hop feel which is a great addition to this album.
Similarly Climax as the debut single off this album highlights the tone of this CD in that Usher goes back to his roots and displays his wide range and vocal ability more than he has done in recent times. I like the song "Sins of my father" as it is a bit jazzy and soulful and Usher knows how to connect with his target audience - who I presume to be predominantly female! - and make us girls weak in the knees lol. The album title song "looking for myself" is a good song which definitely has a more soulful vibe and is catchy and memorable off this album.
The album boasts a lot of contributions from other well known artists and producers like Pharrell Williams and I think Usher has played around with the genres and combining them to put out an album to please everyone. Usher himself has defined this album as "revolutionary pop" and whilst I may not agree, I like that he has brought something out which is quite versatile whilst still not completely abandoning the music I think he is best at. Usher's earlier albums boast tracks which are all so good, there was literally not one I could pick out as my favourite. With this album, I do feel there are some songs which aren't my cup of tea as much as the others as they are a bit samey and nothing special e.g. Say the Words and What happened to you. However, overall I love this album and it get's a lot of play in my car with us all singing along!
I am now anticipating his upcoming tour when I can sing along to all the words and no doubt he will perform a lot of his older material. I would recommend this album to old fans of Usher who like his music from back in the day with a strong R & B vibe but also appreciate some dance, and pop material thrown in! Definitely 4 out of 5 dooyoo stars from me :)
It can be bought on amazon for £7.50 which I think is reasonable, or most likely downloaded from iTunes and the usual places!