Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2010 release from the modern Soul/R&B vocalist. With his smooth, sonorous tone, Jaheim is the forerunner and torch-carrier of today's soul-originated R&B. A vocalist in the tradition of such greats as Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, he signed with former Naughty By Nature beat man Kay Gee's Divine Mill record label in 2000. Jaheim released three albums over five years: his 2001 debut, Ghetto Love; 2002's sophomore set, Still Ghetto - both of which reached RIAA platinum status; and 2006's Ghetto Classics. After taking time off following the release of Ghetto Classics, Jaheim returns with a renewed focus on the direction in which he wants to take his career. 13 tracks.
Another Round is the fifth studio album by American R&B singer-songwriter Jaheim, released on February 9, 2010. It's Jaheim's second album with Atlantic Records.
The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, selling 112,000 copies in its first week. So far the album has sold 340,000 copies as of US Billboard Charts (August 2010).
"The first thing you notice about Jaheim's new album, Another Round, is its cover photo: the singer and the mic.
This cover is no accident. Jaheim is a singer's singer, something that the industry seems unwilling to support in the same way it has in the past. Jaheim isn't the best singer of his generation, but he's pretty much the only one of his contemporaries still consistently recording, though to diminishing sales. So the cover, though probably intended to be somber, actually strikes one as defiant. As if Jaheim is defying you to doubt his voice.
Good then that this is easily Jaheim's finest, most cohesive work. What one notices first is that his stable of writers - including Naughty By Nature's KayGee, Carvin and Ivan, Clifton Lightly, and others - is more in tune with Jaheim's expressive gifts, so they give him melodies that allow him to let the notes breathe.
Jaheim himself just seems at ease with the material, in stark contrast to his almost arrogant persona early in his career. Perhaps it's because he co-wrote many of the songs, so they have that personal touch that he needs to connect to the material. Perhaps it's maturity. Perhaps it's that so much ofAnother Round explores a kind of humility that comes after you have experienced great loss and emerge with greater perspective. Doesn't matter - he just sounds terrific.
Take second single, "Finding My Way Back", where Jaheim expertly dissects devastation at love lost. The lyricism here is the strongest on the album ("Caught a love wave / Rode it then I wiped out / Two ships just passing in the night now / Offshore, looking for a light house"), but more than the words what you hear is how expertly Jaheim holds key notes just a split second too long to express longing. Or listen to him take it to church on "Till It Happens to You", a gospel song of faith with just the right amount of melisma. It's astonishing just how much Jaheim does with so little. There's definitely the fire of gospel in his phrasing, but it is burns slow. Or listen to how he gets his Ray Charles on with the background vocalists on "Her", interacting with them in that classic Charles call-and-response style that gives Jaheim the opportunity to unleash his passionate side.
However, good as these three songs are, "In My Hands" stands head and shoulders above them. The song itself is a piano love ballad that walks a finely modulated balance between sentiment and emotion. It's the kind of song that if a progression or two were done differently would have wound up a maudlin power ballad. But luckily Jaheim brought his A-game. Here his debt to Luther Vandross is startlingly apparent, and yet it never feels like an imitation. It is simply the finest, most precise - yet devastatingly emotional - singing that Jaheim has done to date.
Jaheim does stumble in a few places. "II Pink Lines" is undone by a silly, albeit earnest, conceit. "Closer" fares a little better even though its sexual conceit is clumsy in execution, and the title track's cacophonous production, messy vocal treatment, and terrible lyrics earn it the distinction of being the worst song on the album. But without question, Jaheim has made the best album of his career. It's the album that fans of singers of Jaheim's caliber have known he had in him and have been waiting for her. And what's really sweet about this is that Jaheim did it with some great soul singing and songwriting. This is not an adult contemporary album with cheap pop balladry designed to show off the fact that Jaheim is blessed with one of the best voices of his generation.
Most importantly, while it does recall the best of Teddy Pendergrass, James Ingram, and Luther Vandross, you never get the sense that Another Round is anything less than a Jaheim album. And that is saying something." - PopMatters
Every Tuesday night a group of us, ranging from ex-college players (not me) to guys who just love the game, gather in an aging Koreatown gym to sweat and yell and ostensibly play basketball, and Big Al is one of the best. Big Al must have been a fearsome athlete in his glory days, but now in his mid-30s he simply stretches while the younger guys warm up by throwing down dunks (again, not me). A newcomer would assume Big Al's braced knees would be a liability on the floor, but then the game starts. Instead of trying to run with the young kids Big Al instead pours in a steady diet of mid-range jumpers, always in the right spot to grab a crucial rebound or kick out for an open three, and, despite not throwing down a single Sportscenter worthy highlight, at the end of the game we inevitably look around, exhausted, and realize that once again Big Al has just killed us all.
I'm not sure he'd take this as a compliment, but Jaheim is the Big Al of r&b. It's been nearly a decade since the charismatic crooner made his debut with 2001's Ghetto Love, but in an industry largely dominated by youth, Jaheim's still balling stronger than any of them on his new album Another Round. Instead of chasing trends and teaming up with the next hot thing for a slew of club bangers, Jaheim has instead crafted his unapologetically grown and sexy game into the type of sound that may not go number one on 106 & Park, but will ensure Jaheim's followed by legions of appreciative fans for years to come. In life, as in boxing, it's rarely a good idea to go another round. Jaheim obviously knows something we don't.
What is it that Jaheim does so well? Let's start with the album's lead single Ain't Leavin Without You. Jaheim is obviously well schooled in the lessons taught by his classic r&b predecessors and on Ain't Leaving he essentially lays down a r&b blueprint complete with a kinetic guitar line, a bass line that borders on funk and, of course, his always stellar voice. Let me make this real easy: if this song doesn't make you feel good you probably don't have a soul. Tellingly, Ain't Leaving is far from the only song on Another Round guaranteed to get you out of your seat. Her combines pounding yet muted percussion with a soft guitar line to create an energetically mellow love song, and II Pink Lines digs back into the blues playbook for an ode to an unborn child; never has a positive pregnancy test sounded this good. Anchoring all of them are Jaheim's vocals, which are so strong he can venture into some deeply emotional territory without worrying about sounding weak. On Another Round Jaheim is, simply, the man.
There is one notable exception to this "Jaheim is making quality old-school r&b, radio be damned" storyline, the album's title track Another Round. A track that opens with a club-ready beat, Another Round quickly delves into tales of alcohol fueled fun - it's basically Say Aah without the "it's your birthday." Another Round isn't bad, but it does feel out of place amongst the rest of the album's supremely smooth tales of true love and baby making. Another Round by no means ruins the album, I just wish it wasn't there. And yes, I'm aware that my personal preferences weren't foremost in Jaheim's mind when he was making this album.
Back to the good stuff. Although Another Round doesn't have a true bed burner on it Jaheim certainly knows how to slow down the pace, most notably on the extraordinary Finding My Way Back (my choice for the album's best track) and the gospel-influenced Till It Happens to You. And as long as we're at it I might as well throw in the retro soul Impossible and the piano driven Other Half. Now these are tracks that... you know, I was going to write that the Trey Songz and Chris Brown's of the world should listen to Another Round and take notes - this is how you make adult music that still smokes - but this is too good for me to get distracted by such music industry considerations. Jaheim's made a very personal album, and it deserves to be treated accordingly. In that spirit, I can only recommend you grab that special someone (literally) and throw on Another Round. Feel free to thank me later. You're welcome." - DJBooth
Spin (p.86) - "[With] warm grooves, classic gospel touches, and frequent nods to the late-'70s/early-'80s canon of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross..."
Entertainment Weekly - "Fans of the late Teddy Pendergrass would do well to check out the latest from Jaheim..." -- Grade: B+
Billboard - "[H]e still knows his way around a ballad, calling to mind the late Teddy Pendergrass on the gospel-flavored 'Finding My Way Back.'"
Recording information: Blast Studios, New York, NY; Chung King Studios, New York, NY; Iceberg Studios, Birmingham, AL; Jasane Dramma Studios, Hillsboro, NJ; Pulse Music, New York, NY; Roc Music Recording, Rochester, NY; Signature Sounds, Atlanta, GA; The Hamptons, NJ.
Photographer: Kenneth Cappello.
Truth in advertising, Another Round varies little from Jaheim's earlier efforts, but for the returning listener, that's the selling point. Right off the bat the fingersnapping funk of "Ain't Leavin' Without You" brings that husky brand of neo-soul that's unique to the singer, who's partnered here with a handful like-minded producers including the returning KayGee. With warm guitars, jazzy flutes, and early-'70s soul nostalgia, the following "Finding My Way Back" is a perfect example of how the singer nails those Vandross-sized moments of yearning. The silky smooth "Her" gets at the cool passion of the Isley's, and Bill Withers even comes to mind on some of the more organic cuts, but with such obvious respect for the past, the argument against interpolating Percy Sledge's classic "When a Man Loves a Woman" for the trite "Impossible" should have been obvious. Still, at 14 cuts the album still stands after some trimming, and when you add big fan Jadakiss on the "Ain't Leavin' Without You" remix, you've got all the elements Jaheim fans require. ~ David Jeffries