Personnel: Brian McKnight (guitar, keyboards, programming); Niko McKnight (guitar, keyboards, programming); Tyrone Chase, Eric Brice (guitar); Brian McKnight Jr. (keyboards, programming); Prescott Ellison (drums).
Audio Mixers: Brian McKnight Jr.; Chris Wood .
McKnight's first album since 2011, More Than Words is filled with references to late-'70s and early-'80s R&B and soft rock. They're unmistakable from the beginning, with the opening "Don't Stop" driven by a chunky Slave-like bassline, while the following "Letsomebodyluvu" sports McKnight's Michael McDonald-style background vocal. "Get U 2 Stay" is obvious in its indebtedness to Aja/Gaucho-era Steely Dan, languid and sweet with unmistakably Donald Fagen-like melodies and a quote from "Hey Nineteen." McKnight adds a slightly nutty lyrical touch, mentioning designer footwear and "stretchy pants," and noting that he plays in a band and is "a golf ball hittin' machine." "She Doesn't Know" could have been written with Ray Parker Jr.'s cleverly simple storytelling style in mind. A fair portion of the album, such as "More Than Words," "Nothing But a Thang," and "Livewithoutyou," is more in line with McKnight's own refined style of adult contemporary R&B. Single "4th of July" also fits the bill, though its surprising bass croaks resemble the distorted sample of Locksmith's "Far Beyond" heard in Basement Jaxx's "Red Alert." This is McKnight's most enjoyable album since 2006's Ten. It would be his weirdest release even if it didn't feature him swapping lead vocals with sons Brian Jr. and Niko on songs titled "Ididntreallymeantoturnuout" and "The Front the Back the Side." ~ Andy Kellman