Coming off his multi-Grammy, platinum-selling debut Get Lifted, John Legend might have felt some pressure to follow up with something that would propel him even further into radio stardom. Instead, he approaches Once Again with the poise and professionalism of a veteran, writing well-crafted pop songs that clearly come from someone who's confident (and rightfully so) in his abilities as a complete musician. Taking hints from classic R&B and '60s pop, sometimes quite literally "Each Day Gets Better" samples the Four Tops' "In These Changing Times," and "Save Room" uses Classics IV's "Stormy" Legend forgoes the hip-hop and urban styles of his first effort in favor of harmonious, mature pieces that still retain a very modern attitude. "Show Me" sounds like something by Jeff Buckley, voice and all, while "Stereo" works well as edgy neo-soul, with a great, sing-along chorus that has Legend calling out gold-digging women. There's nothing on Once Again that's as instantly catchy as "Ordinary People," but that's not to say it's not as good as Get Lifted (because it's probably better); it just shows a more secure, comfortable artist who's unrestrained by others' expectations and is able to deliver both a grown-up and enjoyable record.
Marisa Brown writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.